Tennessee Drivers Beware

The start of 2016 brings the renewal of DUI enforcement grants to Tennessee.  Across the state, law enforcement agencies are gearing back up to arrest those suspected of DUI.  Yesterday, Jamie Dexter of the “Stewart Houston Times” (See http://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/local/stewart-houston/2016/01/26/houston-commission-approves-grants/79364862/) reported that Houston County in northwest Tennessee received almost $5,000 from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to “crack down” on DUI offenders.  These grants are not often publicized, but are presented to many law enforcement agencies across the State of Tennessee by both the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the National Traffic Safety Administration, other governmental agencies and some private organizations.

Unfortunately, in order to meet the mandates of these grants, innocent people are too often accused of this extremely serious opinion crime.  Only through a detailed investigation, assertion of our constitutional rights and a detailed explanation of the errors of the arresting officer’s bases of opinion can those who are falsely accused be exonerated.

About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants.  Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee.  Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD.

He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 7th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen).  Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions.  He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries.

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“No Refusal” DUI Enforcement During New Year’s Eve Holiday

The Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security have issued a media release dated December 30, 2015 that details plans for an impaired driving enforcement campaign for the upcoming New Year’s holiday period.  According to the release, in 2014, nine people died in 9 crashes on Tennessee roadways during the New Year’s holiday period.  In an effort to increase the safety and decrease the fatalities of motorists on the roads over the 2015-16 New Year’s holiday, the Tennessee Highway Patrol plans to use aggressive “No Refusal” enforcement.

This “No Refusal” enforcement refers to the use of chemical tests (blood, breath, or urine) that determine the concentration of intoxicants in a person’s system.  These tests will be required by troopers after a Tennessee DUI arrest to pinpoint the arrestee’s degree of intoxication.  Generally, Tennessee law enforcement officers will offer an arrestee the ability to refuse to submit to these chemical tests.  However, if an arrestee does refuse to submit to a test, Tennessee law provides that the officer can obtain a search warrant to forcefully obtain the requisite sample.

During “No Refusal” enforcement periods, like this holiday weekend, the Tennessee Highway Patrol typically has a Tennessee judge (or judges) on call.  If an arrestee refuses to submit to a chemical test, and if the judge determines that the requisite legal grounds exist, a search warrant can be obtained that allows the officer to obtain a chemical test (most often a blood sample), even over the objection or refusal of the motorist placed under arrest.

This increased enforcement is set to begin at 12:01 am on Thursday, December 31, 2015 and to end at 11:59 pm on Monday, January 4, 2016.  State Troopers will also perform saturation traffic patrols, sobriety checkpoints, and bar/tavern checks during this holiday period.

More information about the Tennessee Implied Consent Law can be found by visiting our website or in the prior blog post, “Tennessee DUI No Refusal Weekends.” You may also contact our attorneys, SteveSara, and AZ by calling 865-249-7200. Even during this busy holiday season, the attorneys at Oberman & Rice are available to speak with you 24/7.

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Update: Tennessee Driver License Reinstatement and Driving History

The Tennessee Department of Safety (TDOS) has updated their website to allow for individuals seeking a driver’s license reinstatement (e.g. following a revocation for a Tennessee DUI conviction) instant access to check the status of their driver’s license. This website will also allow for: Adding an Emergency Contact; Changing your Address; and the Ability to View any Reinstatement Requirements. Please keep in mind that you must have the following information in order to begin the process of accessing your driver’s license status: Tennessee Driver License/ID Number; Last Name; Last four (4) Digits of your Social Security Number; and Date of Birth. If you are unable to have access to the Internet, you may always call the TDOS at 1-866-903-7357. Tennessee drivers who have their license suspended or revoked should take advantage of this resource.

The Tennessee Department of Safety also provides resources for someone to obtain a copy of a Tennessee Driver Record/Driving History/ Motor Vehicle Record (or Tennessee MVR) online. You may also visit a full service Driver Service Center for a copy of your MVR (a list of these centers may be found here.) The following information on obtaining a copy of one’s driving record comes from the TDOS’s website:

You will need the following information to request your MVR online:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • TN Driver’s License Number
  • Credit Card/Check card Payment of $7.00

 

If you choose to go to a Driver Service Center for a copy of your MVR you will need the following:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • TN Driver’s License Number
  • $5.00 Payment

 

If you want someone else to obtain a copy of your MVR for you, you must submit a notarized statement authorizing that person to obtain the MVR.

You may also request a copy of your MVR by mail by mailing your request to:

                                    Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security

                                    MVR Request

                                    PO BOX 945

                                    Nashville, Tennessee 37202

Please take note there is a $5.00 charge for a copy of a three-year driving record.   You may either send a cashier’s check or money order made payable to Tennessee Department of Homeland Security. Please include the Driver’s Name; Birth Date; and TN Driver’s License Number. It will take about two weeks from the mailing date to receive the record. The federal Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) prohibits the release of personal identifying information from driver license and vehicle registration records unless an individual submits a form requesting their records be open.

The Oberman & Rice law firm often deal with issues surrounding Tennessee driver licenses, relating to Tennessee DUI offenses, as well as other traffic issues.  Should you have any legal issues surrounding your Tennessee driver license, our attorneys,  Steve and Sara are be available to speak with you and can be reached by calling 865-249-7200.

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Tennessee Labor Day Traffic Enforcement

This Labor Day weekend, the Tennessee Highway Patrol plans to implement several checkpoints across the East Tennessee area. These checkpoints will include seat belt checkpoints, driver’s license checkpoints, and DUI checkpoints. A full listing of the types and locations of roadblocks can be found here. It is important to keep in mind that even if the checkpoint is for a seat belt or no driver’s license, the law enforcement agent will be looking for any sign of an impaired driver.

If the law enforcement agent suspects a driver is impaired, or Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the law enforcement agent may ask the driver to exit the vehicle and perform several tests known as “field sobriety tests.” Furthermore, the law enforcement agent may request a chemical test (breath or blood.) Any driver should be aware of their rights and possible consequences of refusing these requested tests.

Anyone arrested for DUI, or another related charge, should immediately contact a Tennessee DUI Lawyer familiar with Tennessee DUI laws.  For more information about the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) or about your legal rights with respect to a Tennessee Highway Patrol checkpoint, Steve, Sara, or AZ are available by calling 865-249-7200.  You may also wish to visit www.tndui.com for more information about the offense of driving under the influence in Tennessee.

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Cinco de Mayo DUI and Traffic Enforcement

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) has increased traffic safety enforcement patrols, including driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement, for the Cinco de Mayo holiday period.  The increased Tennessee DUI and traffic enforcement will continue through midnight on May 6, 2015.

In addition to this saturated DUI enforcement, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has also scheduled several roadside checkpoints in East Tennessee this week.

  • A Driver’s License Checkpoint will be conducted on 5/5/2015 in Union County, State Route 33 at 61E.
  • A Sobriety Checkpoint will take place on 5/8/15 in Knox County, State Route 33 at Loyston Road.
  • A Driver’s License Checkpoint will be held in Roane County on 5/8/15, to be located on US 27 at Industrial Park Road.

A full list of Tennessee Highway Patrol sponsored roadside checkpoints can be found by clicking here.

If you  find yourself in the situation of being accused of a DUI or other traffic offense, you should immediately contact a Tennessee DUI attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI and traffic laws.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about your legal rights with respect to an allegation of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, the lawyers at Oberman & Rice are available by calling (865) 249-7200.  You may also wish to visit www.tndui.com for more information about the offense of driving under the influence in Tennessee.

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Where may I obtain a Tennessee Restricted Driver’s License?

In order to apply for a Tennessee Restricted Driver’s License, it is important to go to the correct Tennessee Department of Safety location. Not every Driver Service Center in Tennessee is authorized to issue a Restricted Driver’s License. For example, Knoxville has several Driver Service Center locations but only one (located at **Strawberry Plains) can process the appropriate paperwork to obtain a Restricted Driver’s License and has the ability to issue a temporary Restricted Driver’s License, valid for 90 days.

A helpful online tool is provided by the Department of Safety in order to save you time and effort when attempting to find which Driver Service Center location will issue a Restricted Driver’s License. This link will allow for you to search and determine which Driver Service Center in your area can issue a Restricted Driver’s License or fulfill other needs you may have (i.e.: Renew a Driver’s License, Take a Road Driving Test, etc.).

If you are in need of a Tennessee Restricted Driver’s License, many important steps and procedures are required. The attorneys at Oberman & Rice can assist you in the process of obtaining a Restricted Driver’s License. For more information regarding a Restricted Driver’s License and the requirements for obtaining a Restricted Driver’s License the lawyers at Oberman & Rice are available by calling (865) 249-7200. You may also wish to visit www.tndui.com for more information about a Restricted Driver’s License.

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2015 Update – Two Legislative Proposals Regarding DUI & Alcohol in Tennessee

During the 2015 legislative term, Tennessee lawmakers have proposed two separate bills that address the use of alcohol. Designed with safety as a primary concern, Senate Bill 0699 and Senate Bill 0374 each address the consequences of what can happen when alcohol is misused. Similar House bills have been introduced as well.

Senate Bill 0699 attempts to lower the number of Driving Under the Influence offenses by banning third-time (or more) DUI offenders from purchasing alcohol. Those persons convicted of three DUI offenses will have a special indication on their driver’s license or state ID with the words “NO ALCOHOL SALES.” This particular bill was introduced in response to concern about a growing number of people who have been arrested for a third DUI offense in the state of Tennessee. Specifically, 751 received a third DUI offense in 2014; however, in 2015, that number is expected to grow to 900.

Senate Bill 0374 addresses a new form of intoxicant – crystalline and powdered alcohol. This particular bill would altogether ban crystalline and powdered alcohol in Tennessee, without qualification. Because these substances prove easily accessible and susceptible to abuse (specifically by mixing into food and beverages, with or without another person’s knowledge), Tennessee and a growing number of states have disallowed this new substance.

If these proposals are passed, Tennessee will have implemented innovative measures to attempt to regulate alcohol use within the state.  Mr. Oberman extends his appreciation to Kaya Porter, second year UT law student, for her assistance in researching and editing this blog post.

If accused of driving under the influence, it is important to immediately consult with a Tennessee DUI attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws and the issues surrounding DUI defense.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about your legal rights with respect to an allegation of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, the lawyers at Oberman & Rice are available by calling (865) 249-7200.  You may also wish to visit www.tndui.com for more information about the offense of driving under the influence in Tennessee.

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DUI by Prescription Medication

One of the most common misconceptions in Driving Under the Influence cases is that a person cannot be convicted of driving under the influence of a drug that prescribed to that person.  In Tennessee, driving with prescription medication in one’s system is not a defense to Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

 

Under Tennessee law it is unlawful for any person to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while “Under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system or combination thereof that impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of himself which he would otherwise possess.” Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-401(1).  Tennessee law further specifies that, “The fact that any person charged with violating § 55-10-401 is or has been entitled to use one (1) or more intoxicants, alcohol, marijuana, controlled substances, controlled substance analogues, drugs, or other substances that cause impairment shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this part.” Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-411(e).

 

Driving under the influence of drugs (both illicit drugs and prescription medication) is reported to be on the rise, as recently highlighted in The Washington Post.  Two recent reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claim that the incidents of driving under the influence by alcohol (drunk driving) are down, but there has been an increase of cases involving those driving under the influence of marijuana and prescription drugs:

The 2014 survey found that about 8 percent of people on the road on weekend nights had alcohol in their system, and slightly more than 1 percent were above the legal limit. That was 30 percent below the 2007 figure, NHTSA said, and an 80 percent drop since the first survey was taken in 1973.

But the number of people with drugs in their system was found to be on the rise. It jumped from 16.3 percent in 2007 to 20 percent of weekend nighttime drivers in 2014. Drivers with marijuana in their system soared by almost 50 percent.

See Ashley Halsey III, Fewer People  Driving Drunk, But Drug Use On The Road Is Rising, The Washington Post (Feb. 8, 2015), available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/fewer-people-driving-drunk-but-more-are-driving-while-on-drugs/2015/02/08/b6c4ad2a-ae59-11e4-9c91-e9d2f9fde644_story.html.

 

If accused of driving under the influence of drugs (DUI by drugs), it is important to immediately consult with a Tennessee DUI attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws and the issues surrounding DUI by drugs or prescription medication.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about your legal rights with respect to an allegation of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, the lawyers at Oberman & Rice are available by calling (865) 249-7200.  You may also wish to visit www.tndui.com for more information about the offense of driving under the influence in Tennessee.

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Tennessee Highway Patrol 4th of July Checkpoints

This 4th of July weekend, the Tennessee Highway Patrol plans to implement several checkpoints across East Tennessee, including seat belt checkpoints, driver’s license checkpoints, and DUI checkpoints.  A list of the types and locations of the roadblocks can be found here.  Be aware that even at seat belt and driver’s license checkpoints, an officer may still be looking for impaired drivers.

If an officer suspects a motorist of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the officer might ask the motorist to perform a series of field sobriety tests. The officer may also request a chemical test, such as a breath or blood test. Drivers should be aware of their rights and the potential consequences of refusing these tests.

Anyone arrested for DUI, or another related charge, should immediately contact a Tennessee DUI Lawyer familiar with Tennessee DUI laws.  For more information about the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) or about your legal rights with respect to a Tennessee Highway Patrol checkpoint, Steve and Sara are available by calling 865-249-7200.  You may also wish to visit www.tndui.com for more information about the offense of driving under the influence in Tennessee.

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Staying Alive on I-75

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is participating in a six state effort to enforce traffic laws on Interstate 75 this weekend.

I-75 , which runs through Knoxville, stretches all the way from Miami to Canada.  According to WATE-TV News in Knoxville, all six states that share I-75 will be participating in a program entitled “Staying Alive on I-75” this weekend, March 28-30, 2014.  This is part of a nationwide effort to reduce traffic fatalities.  Motorists can expect to see an increase in the number of police officers, including members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, along the I-75 corridor.  Officers will be looking for distracted drivers, those breaking traffic rules, and anyone suspected of driving under the influence (DUI).

Among the six states participating are Tennessee, Kentucky, and Michigan.  College basketball fans know that for these states, all roads lead to Indianapolis this weekend.  Knoxville fans headed to Indy will be driving I-75 for much of the trip.  It is important to remember to obey all traffic laws and to never get behind the wheel if you have had too much to drink.

If you do find yourself in the situation of being accused of a DUI, you should immediately contact a Tennessee DUI attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about your legal rights with respect to an allegation of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, the lawyers at Oberman & Rice are available by calling (865) 249-7200.  You may also wish to visit www.tndui.com for more information about the offense of driving under the influence in Tennessee.

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