Archive for February, 2010
When a person is convicted of or pleads guilty to the offense of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Tennessee, the law requires that a judge advise them of the mandatory penalties set by the Tennessee legislature. The judge must also advise the person of enhanced penalties for future DUI convictions.
The judge is not required, however, to advise a defendant of the possible restrictions a Tennessee DUI conviction could place on travel. For instance, once convicted of a TN DUI offense, a person is deemed “criminally inadmissible” to Canada. In fact, if border authorities learn of Tennessee DUI arrest, pending trial, or even the simple issuance of a criminal warrant, you may be denied entry.
Typically, one must follow specific “rehabilitation” procedures to be granted access to Canada following a conviction for driving under the influence. However, a person cannot even begin the application process until a period of five (5) years has passed since the expiration of his or her sentence (rather than 5 years from the date of conviction). In some rare instances, one may be granted a temporary residence permit, which would allow the person entry even during a period of criminal inadmissibility.
Two excellent references on this subject can be found at http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g153339-c49436/Canada:Dwi.Or.Dui.Driving.Convictions.html and http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/faq-inadmissibility.asp#note1.
Most people erroneously believe that one can’t be convicted of DUI if one registers below .08% blood alcohol level. Recently, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction of a man whose blood alcohol level was only .03%, well below the statutory .08% per se (legal) level.
In this case, the officer testified that the defendant swerved his vehicle three times over the yellow center lines of the road. Then the Defendant approached an intersection and turned left without stopping at the stop sign. After being stopped, the Defendant failed all field sobriety tests and was subsequently arrested.
The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that a person does not have to have a blood alcohol content of .08% or any drugs in his or her system in order to be found guilty of DUI.
The Court considered all of the evidence, including the Defendant’s failure to perform field sobriety tests satisfactorily and the police officer’s observation of driving infractions by the Defendant, was sufficient to uphold the conviction.
This case emphasizes the need to be certain a qualified lawyer with sufficient DUI or DWI defense experience and expertise is hired to defend a Driving Under the Influence case even if the blood alcohol level is below the per se (legal) limit of .08%.