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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Have a Happy and Safe St. Patrick’s Day!

Saint Patrick’s Day is often associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages.  If you are celebrating this holiday in such a manner, you should be careful to recognize that your alcohol consumption may impair your ability to drive.  You may not realize that your own ability to know if you are impaired or under the influence may be affected by alcohol.  The safe way to celebrate is to be certain you have a designated driver who is not drinking alcohol or taking any medications or drugs.  If you even think you may be impaired, you should call a cab or get a ride with a friend.  Be prepared with contact information for cab companies.  AAA even offers a unique “Tow to Go” program as a last resort for impaired drivers.  Subject to availability, a AAA tow truck will tow you and your vehicle to a safe location within a 10-mile radius at no cost.

Even if you conclude that you are not too impaired to get behind the wheel, keep in mind that a law enforcement officer could reach a different conclusion.  Should you be stopped and suspected of driving under the influence, you may find yourself with several questions relating to Tennessee DUI laws, such as:

We would encourage you to visit our website at http://www.tndui.com/faqs/faqs.html for the detailed answers to these and many other frequently asked questions relating to a DUI traffic stop.

Anyone arrested for DUI (driving under the influence), or another related charge, should immediately contact a Tennessee DUI Attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about Tennessee traffic violations, Steve and Sara are available by calling 865-249-7200.

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Upcoming East Tennessee THP Checkpoints

The Tennessee Highway Patrol plans to implement several checkpoints across East Tennessee in the next few weeks. Tennessee Highway Patrol regulations allow for several types of checkpoints.  In addition to the commonly known Sobriety Checkpoints or DUI Roadblocks, Troopers may also establish roadblocks relating to Seatbelt and Driver’s License laws.  Be aware that even at seatbelt and driver’s license checkpoints, an officer may still be looking for impaired drivers.

If an officer suspects a driver of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the officer might ask the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests. The officer may also request a chemical test, such as a breath or blood test. Motorists 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 Attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws.  For more information about the crime of 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.

Date County Location Type
3/12/14 Knox SR 33 @ Loyston Road Seatbelt Checkpoint
3/14/14 Union SR 33 @ SR 61 Sobriety Checkpoint
3/14/14 Roane Pine Ridge Road Near RR Tracks Driver’s License Checkpoint
3/14/14 Blount SR 336 @ Blockhouse Road Driver’s License Checkpoint
3/15/14 Anderson Sulphur Springs @ Laurel Road Driver’s License Checkpoint
3/16/14 Anderson Red Hill @ Park Lane Driver’s License Checkpoint
3/17/14 Blount SR 333 @ George Creek Boat Ramp Sobriety Checkpoint
3/19/14 Loudon I-75 North TH 76 MM Off Ramp Seatbelt Checkpoint
3/19/14 Monroe SR 322 @ I-75 S/B Exit Ramp Seatbelt Checkpoint
3/20/14 Loudon I-75 South 76 MM Off Ramp Seatbelt Checkpoint
3/20/14 Monroe SR 68 @ I-75 S/B Exit Ramp Seatbelt Checkpoint
3/21/14 Roane Highway 58 @ New Bridge Seatbelt Checkpoint
3/21/14 Campbell US 25 W @ Dog Creek Road Seatbelt Checkpoint
3/24/14 Monroe SR 369 @ Ballplay Road DL
3/26/14 Union Loyston Road @ Raccoon Valley Road Seatbelt
3/26/14 Sevier New Era Road @ South New Era Road DL
4/04/14 Knox West Emory Road @ Carpenter Road Seatbelt
4/25/14 Knox West Emory Road @ Gill Road Sobriety

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Tennessee Motor Vehicle Driving Record (MVR) Now Available Online

Tennessee motorists can now obtain a Tennessee Driving History online.  As discussed in a previous post, Tennessee Driver License Reinstatement and Driving History, Tennesseeans were previously limited to obtaining this information by either submitting a request by mail or submitting a request in person at a Tennessee Driver Service Center.

A Tennessee licensee can obtain this Motor Vehicle Report (MVR), also often referred to as a Tennessee Driving History, by visiting https://apps.tn.gov/pmvr/.  The report costs $7, which may be paid by credit card or check card; however, a prepaid card is not an acceptable payment option.  The motorist will further need to provide the Driver name, date of birth, and Tennessee driver license number.

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 Highway Patrol Using Tractor Trailer to Catch Distracted Drivers

As part of its new campaign to identify and cite drivers who are texting and driving, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has a new strategy to catch distracted drivers. They are using the THP tractor-trailer truck to get a higher, better look at what drivers are doing inside their vehicles in hopes that this vantage point will help spot those texting and driving. The troopers are able to spot other violations from the truck such as lane changes and seat belt violations, but the main focus of the campaign is texting and driving.

Interestingly, the new Tennessee Highway Patrol tractor-trailer has THP logos and roof-mounted emergency lights, just like a standard patrol vehicle. Once the driver of the tractor trailer spots a driver violating the law, they radio to another trooper who then makes the stop.  The THP took the tractor-trailer to the roads recently for a special two-day enforcement campaign. In just two days, troopers issued 190 tickets using the big rig. Troopers cited 16 people for texting while driving, 21 for speeding, and 78 for not wearing a seatbelt. It is important to understand that a standard traffic violation can lead to a DUI arrest if the driver, once he or she is stopped, is suspected of Driving Under the Influence.

Anyone arrested for DUI (driving under the influence), or another related charge, should immediately contact a Tennessee DUI Attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about Tennessee traffic violations, 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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Ignition Interlock Device Requirements Under the New Tennessee DUI Laws

Below is a brief outline of some of the most frequently asked questions regarding ignition interlock device requirements as a result of the new Tennessee DUI Laws that became effective July 1, 2013 and apply to those arrested for a Tennessee DUI on or after that date.

Is an ignition interlock device (IID) now required with every DUI conviction?

The new Tennessee Law provisions do not require an IID for every DUI offender who applies for a restricted driver’s license.

What are the IID requirements with a DUI 1st offense conviction?

The use of an IID is not required with every Tennessee DUI conviction.  Rather, one of the prerequisites listed below must be present to require the use of an IID.  For instance, an IID is not required if a person refuses a chemical test (blood, breath, or urine test) and is convicted of DUI unless certain other factors are present.  Other factors may prevent the mandatory IID requirement. Accordingly, it is important to carefully review the details of your case with your Tennessee DUI attorney.

When obtaining a restricted driver’s license following a conviction for DUI 1st offense, motorists are required to operate only vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device when:

  1. The person’s blood or breath alcohol concentration is .08% or higher;
  2. The person’s blood or breath alcohol concentration contains a combination of any amount of alcohol and marijuana, a controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, drug, or any substance affecting the central nervous system;
  3. The person was accompanied by a person under the age of 18 at the time of the DUI offense;
  4. The person was involved in a traffic accident for which notice to a law enforcement officer was required, and the accident was the proximate cause of the person’s intoxication; or
  5. The person violated the implied consent law and has a prior conviction or juvenile delinquency for a violation that occurred within five years of the instant implied consent violation for:
    1. Implied consent under Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-406;
    2. Underage driving while impaired under Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-415;
    3. The open container law under Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-416; or
    4. Reckless driving under Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-205, if the charged offense was Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-401.

It should be noted that even if not required by statute, judges have discretion to order the use of an ignition interlock device upon application for any restricted Tennessee driver’s license. A motorist may also request the court to order an IID rather than have her permitted driving restricted to certain days, times and locations. However, unless ordered of the court’s own accord, motorists are not eligible to apply for ignition interlock fund assistance and are responsible for all costs associated with the installation and maintenance of the device.

What are the IID requirements with a DUI 2nd or greater offense conviction?

If a person has a prior conviction within the past 10 years for DUI or Adult DWI in Tennessee or a similar offense in another jurisdiction, the court may order a restricted driver’s license.  However, the court must order that the person operate only a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device.

Does a violation of the Implied Consent law require the use of an IID with a restricted driver’s license?

A refusal under the Implied Consent law does not automatically trigger the requirement for an IID.  In fact, no ignition interlock device is required unless the person (1) is found to have violated the Tennessee Implied Consent law; (2) is convicted of the related-DUI offense (assuming it is a first offense); and (3) has one of the qualifying prior convictions as noted above.

Anyone arrested for DUI (driving under the influence), or another related charge, should immediately contact a Tennessee DUI Attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about Tennessee ignition interlock device requirements, 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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Knoxville Area DUI Checkpoints Begin Thursday Night

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has issued a media release dated July 1, 2013 that details plans for an impaired driving enforcement campaign for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol plans to implement several checkpoints for the duration of the holiday weekend, which will include the standard sobriety checkpoints (DUI Roadblocks) and driver’s license checkpoints, as well as the more aggressive “no refusal” sobriety checkpoints.

At these checkpoint locations, every driver who passes through must be stopped and questioned by Troopers.  During the stop, if the Troopers notice signs of drug and/or alcohol impairment  you may be asked to exit your vehicle to perform certain roadside tasks (field sobriety tests).

Information about the dates and locations of the planned DUI checkpoints in the Knoxville area are included below and have been taken directly from the Tennessee Highway Patrol press release.  Information for additional DUI roadblocks across Tennessee can be downloaded here.

 

Anyone arrested for DUI (driving under the influence), or another related charge, 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 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.

 

DIST. 1 KNOXVILLE—Fourth of July Sobriety Checkpoints

* Indicates a No Refusal Sobriety Checkpoint; DL indicates a Driver’s License Checkpoint

THURSDAY, JULY 4

Checkpoint County Road/Highway Time of Day
DL CHECKPOINT Loudon EAST TELLICO PKWY NORTH OF 411 Afternoon
SOBRIETY* Knox CONCORD @ STATE ROUTE 332 Late Night
SOBRIETY* Knox STATE ROUTE 62 EAST @ STATE ROUTE 162 Late Night

FRIDAY, JULY 5:

Checkpoint County Road/Highway Time of Day
DL CHECKPOINT Loudon FOSTER RD @ BROWDER HILL & STEVENS RD Afternoon
SOBRIETY* Knox STATE ROUTE 131 @ CARPENTER RD Night
SOBRIETY* Knox MAYNARDVILLE RD @ FT. SUMTER RD Night
SOBRIETY Roane HWY 382 @ CHURCH OF LATTER DAY SAINTS Night
SOBRIETY Sevier US 411 @ STATE ROUTE 139 DOUGLAS DAM RD Night
SOBRIETY Anderson STATE ROUTE 61 @ VICTORY BAPTIST CHURCH Night

SATURDAY, JULY 6:

Checkpoint County Road/Highway Time of Day
DL CHECKPOINT Morgan STATE ROUTE 62 @ PETIT LANE Morning
DL CHECKPOINT Campbell SR 63 @ CAMPBELL/CLAIBORNE CO LINE Night
SOBRIETY Blount OLD KNOXVILLE HWY @ I-140 RAMP Night
SOBRIETY* Sevier SR 66 @ SR 139 DOUGLAS DAM RD Late Night

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