Bill could require DUI offenders to blow breathalyzer before dri - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Bill could require DUI offenders to blow breathalyzer before driving

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A bill is gaining support in Mississippi to crack down on drunk driving.

If the bill passed, drivers convicted of a DUI would have a device installed in the car, requiring a breathalyzer test every time you turn on the ignition.

For Etoile Frazier Patrick, the legislation is personal. Her 19-year-old son, John Michael, was hit and killed by a drunk driver in March 2007. She is calling for the bill to pass.

Her son's life was not the only one lost that day. His 18-year-old girlfriend was in the car, too. The man responsible was a third time offender with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.

"He said he only had two beers. I said, 'One of those beers killed my son and one killed his girlfriend,'" said Patrick, who is now hoping lawmakers share her passion for change.

Under this bill, a first time conviction would mean an offender must have the device installed for six months. A second conviction requires it for one to two years. On a third or subsequent offense, the device would stay in place for three to five years.

"This law will help save lives and it will help prevent repeat offenses," said Frank Harris, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Frank Harris, who works with MADD, says suspending a license never prevents offenders from driving. He says up to 75 percent of offenders continue driving on a suspended license.

"With more interlocks on the road for a convicted drunk driver's vehicle, the less likely they're going to re-offend, the less likely they're driving drunk following a conviction," said Harris.

The cost would be passed on to the offender and Etoile Patrick says by requiring it after a first offense, it will show that the state is serious about drunk driving.

"There's no excuse. I don't think we should give them a bye. They don't get a pass for being drunk," she said.

Seventeen other states already have a similar law on the books. The bill passed the house overwhelmingly and is now pending in a senate committee.

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