8 Things to Know About

TN Interlock Law

Over the years, a lot of changes have happened with TN Interlock Law. It’s our job at Smart Start of TN to be up-to-date on all the ignition interlock law changes in Tennessee. In 2021, the minimum ignition interlock sentence by the judge for a DUI is 365 days. Once a car breathalyzer is installed, there are still a few rules the client must follow to finish their TN Ignition Interlock Program in compliance.

When a client has their ignition interlock installed at Smart Start of TN, we give them our Keys to Success Handbook with all they need to know about their interlock device. Of course the client may still have questions on the car breathalyzer so here are 8 things to know about their new ignition interlock device in TN.

#1 If you get a DUI, you have to install an ignition interlock device

The TN Interlock Law changed in 2016 so that even first DUI offenders must install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a minimum of 365 days. There is a common misconception that you can wait out your drivers license revocation period without installing a car breathalyzer. This is FALSE! You will never be able to get a valid drivers license without completing the TN Interlock Program after getting a DUI.

#2 If you don’t go get your restricted license, you are not getting credit for the program

Simply getting an ignition interlock installed does not begin your TN Interlock Program. Once installed, you must go to the DMV and obtain your restricted license. Your interlock time frame does not start the day you install, it starts from the day you obtain your restricted license. For the steps to getting an ignition interlock in TN, click HERE for a short video.

#3 If your car is repossessed or inoperable, you are responsible for the device

Your Smart Start of TN ignition interlock device is leased to you and therefore your financial responsibility if it is damaged, lost, stolen, or in any way out of your possession. You have many options available to help you stay in compliance and finish your TN Interlock Program successfully if you are in a situation where your car is inoperable or out of your possession. It is important to remember that your TN ignition interlock device can only be removed and installed by a licensed Smart Start of TN interlock provider. If you need to remove or transfer your car breathalyzer, bring it into the nearest Smart Start of TN location to have the services performed by one of your license technicians to keep you in compliance with the TN Department of Safety. Failure to return the ignition interlock device will result in you paying full price for the unit or be charged with felony theft. You are accruing charges on your account as long as the device is in your possession.

#4 The camera is essential

The camera for your ignition interlock device is just as important as the device itself. As you saw in item 1, it can save you from a violation if you are not the one attempting to drive the vehicle when alcohol is consumed. Many people are concerned that the device is recording or taking pictures of them at other times while driving their vehicle. The camera installed with your ignition interlock device only takes pictures while you are blowing into the device.

#5 Violations create extensions

All you need to know about violating your TN Interlock Program can be found in our Keys to Success Handbook. Don’t consume any amount of alcohol and try to drive. The state mandates the calibration of ignition interlock devices to .02 BrAC. Even the tiniest amount of alcohol before driving may cause your device to violate you. For more information on violations during your TN Ignition Interlock Program, click HERE for a short video.

#6 Anyone can drive the vehicle with the interlock installed

There are many reasons that someone else may need to drive your car with the breathalyzer installed. Many families only have one vehicle so a spouse or other family member must drive it. Anyone can drive your vehicle with the ignition interlock installed, they just have to follow the same rules: blow into it to start, take rolling retests and absolutely no alcohol. If another driver does test positive for alcohol when trying to blow into the breathalyzer, that’s ok, that’s why there is a camera installed, you won’t be charged for a violation. To stay in compliance with your TN Ignition Interlock Program, it is very important to have your car breathalyzer calibrated every month to avoid program extensions. If you are unable to bring the car in for service, make sure to have someone bring it in for you.

#7 Smart Start of TN does not dictate your program length or violations

The TN Department of Safety is the one in charge of your ignition interlock program. Smart Start of TN is an ignition interlock provider that gives the TN Department of Safety records to be analyzed by the department. If you have no violations, you will sail through your TN Ignition Interlock Program. If violations do occur, the TN Department of Safety reviews the violations and decides whether your program will be extended or not. Reading your Smart Start of TN Keys to Success will help you avoid violation and stay in compliance with the TN Ignition Interlock Program. We also have many resources on what is a violation available on our TN Law page on the website.

#8 If you remove the ignition interlock device before your program end date, your TN Ignition Interlock Program starts over

We understand having an ignition interlock device installed on your car is more than inconvenient. No one wants to keep the interlock device on their car a moment longer than they have to. Do not remove the interlock device from your vehicle until you complete the TN Interlock Program in compliance. Your ignition interlock device must be on your vehicle for 365 consecutive days. Removing the device at any point during your program will cause you to start the program from the beginning.

Smart Start of TN is locally owned and operated. We know interlock law in Tennessee better than any other interlock company. To learn more, visit our RESOURCES page.

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