Posts Tagged Tennessee DUI

Tennessee Highway Patrol Checkpoints planned for the upcoming Memorial Day 2018 Weekend

With just a few weeks until lake season begins in East Tennessee, motorists who plan on traveling to enjoy the upcoming Memorial Day weekend need to be mindful while driving to the lake festivities and family cookouts. Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers will be out in force during Memorial Day weekend ensuring that motorists are not driving while impaired/aggressively or committing traffic violations.

The 2018 holiday enforcement period begins Friday, May 25 and concludes Monday, May 28. Two Sobriety checkpoints are planned in Knox County on May 25. The first scheduled Sobriety Checkpoint will be located on Highway 33 at Loyston Road and the second Sobriety Checkpoint will be located on Northshore Drive west of Concord Road. Additionally, a Seatbelt checkpoint is planned in Knox County on May 26, on Ogle Avenue at Martin Mill Pike. Sobriety Checkpoints are also planned throughout the holiday weekend in Anderson and Sevier Counties. For a list of all the planned checkpoints throughout East Tennessee in May, please click here.

The DUI defense lawyers at Oberman & Rice are always willing to help those who may be falsely accused, but we’d prefer that the readers of this blog not place themselves in a position to be suspected of driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Please review our website for more information or call us with questions at (865) 249-7200.

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When the State’s Expert Witness Has a Financial Interest in DUI Convictions

On February 6, 2018, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-413(f), which establishes a BADT fee, is unconstitutional as a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and article I, section 8 of the Tennessee Constitution.

What is a BADT fee?

The Tennessee DUI law in question provides that,

In additional to all other fines, fees, costs, and punishments now prescribed by law, . . . a blood alcohol or drug concentration test (BADT) fee in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) shall be assessed upon a conviction for driving under the influence of an intoxicant under § 55-10-401, vehicular assault under § 39-13-106, aggravated vehicular assault under § 39-13-115, vehicular homicide under § 39-13-213(a)(2), or aggravated vehicular homicide under § 39-13-218, for each offender who has taken a breath alcohol test on an evidential breath testing unit provided, maintained, and administered by a law enforcement agency for the purpose of determining the breath alcohol content or has submitted to a chemical test to determine the alcohol or drug content of the blood or urine. T.C.A. § 55-10-413(f)(2017).[1]

The statute further indicates that the fee shall be collected by the court clerk and deposited in the TBI toxicology unit intoxication testing fund and may be used by the TBI “to employ personnel, purchase equipment and supplies, pay for the education, training and scientific development of employees, or for any other purpose so as to allow the bureau to operate in a more efficient and expeditious manner. T.C.A. § 55-10-413(f)(2) and (3)(2017).

As noted by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, this blood alcohol or drug concentration test (BADT) fee provides the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) with a direct financial interest in securing DUI-related convictions because this fee is not collected if the defendant’s charges are dismissed, reduced, or if the defendant is acquitted.

Due Process Requires Fairness and Impartiality

“When discussing the importance of due process protections, this court has reiterated that ‘[w]e cannot allow public confidence in the complete fairness and impartiality of our tribunals to be eroded and nothing which casts any doubt on the fairness of the proceedings should be tolerated.’” State v. Decosimo, No. E2017-00696-CCA-R3-CD, at *24 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 6, 2018)(citations omitted).

Although they are employed by the state, TBI forensic scientists are expected to remain neutral and unbiased to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system. The BADT fee, however, provides these forensic scientists with a pecuniary interest because they may benefit from the collected fee (continued employment, salaries, equipment, and training). The court also noted that although a TBI analyst could lost his job if test results are falsified, the analysts would “most certainly lose their jobs if funding for their positions disappears, a result of which these forensic scientist are no doubt well aware.” Such a fee system calls into question the TBI forensic test results and, therefore, violated due process. State v. Decosimo, No. E2017-00696-CCA-R3-CD, at *27 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 6, 2018)(citations omitted).

Impact of the Unconstitutionality of the BADT Fee

Attorneys across the state of Tennessee are taking a closer look at all DUI cases involving a chemical test sample. Depending on the facts of the case, and the jurisdiction, DUI defendants could benefit from the suppression of the blood or breath test results from evidence. If the evidence of impairment is limited to the chemical test result, attorneys may even find success in arguing motions to dismiss the criminal case against the defendant.

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office has filed an application to the Tennessee Supreme Court for permission to appeal the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeal’s decision. This Rule 11 application highlights the need for an urgent, “expeditious review” given the fact that the Decosimo ruling impacts thousands of past convictions as well as current and future DUI-related prosecutions. Although it is likely that the Tennessee Supreme Court will agree to hear the appeal, it remains to be seen whether they will ultimately uphold the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals’ ruling that the BADT fee is unconstitutional, or if the court will reverse the decision and find the fee constitutionally permissible.

If you would like further information about Tennessee DUI laws, or your case, you may contact the Oberman and Rice Law Firm at (865) 249-7200.

[1] At the time of the defendant’s arrest in State v. Decosimo, the relevant statute number was T.C.A. § 55-10-419 (2012). Since that time, this code section was transferred to the current location of § 55-10-413 and minor changes have been made by the Tennessee legislature.

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THP checkpoints planned for the upcoming Labor Day 2017 Weekend

Motorists need to be mindful during the upcoming Labor Day Weekend while driving to the lake and family cookouts. Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers will be out in force this Labor Day weekend ensuring that motorists are not driving while impaired/aggressively or committing traffic violations.

The 2017 holiday enforcement period begins Friday, September 1, and concludes Monday, September 4. Driver’s license checkpoints are planned in a number of Tennessee counties including Knox County on Sept September 1, at S.R. 61 Emory Road at Washington Pike and in Campbell County at SR 63 at Campbell/Claiborne line. Sobriety checkpoints are also planned throughout the holiday weekend. For a list of all the planned checkpoints in September click here.

The DUI defense lawyers at Oberman & Rice are always willing to help those who may be falsely accused, but we’d prefer that the readers of this blog not place themselves in a position to be suspected of driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Please review our website for more information or call us with questions at (865) 249-7200.

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“No Refusal” Sobriety Checkpoints on New Year’s Eve

On New Year’s Eve, as 2016 draws to a close, Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers will be out in force with multiple sobriety checkpoints throughout the state.

In East Tennessee, “No Refusal” Sobriety Checkpoints are planned in Knox, Loudon, Roane, Campbell, and Sevier County. For the exact locations and a full list of all planned checkpoints throughout the state, click here.

The term “No Refusal” relates to the use of chemical tests (blood, breath, or urine) to measure the concentration of alcohol or drugs in a person’s system. Usually, a person who is arrested for DUI has the right to refuse to consent to a chemical test, although there are exceptions to the right to refuse and there are consequences to refusing. If an arrestee refuses to consent, a law enforcement officer has the option of obtaining a search warrant that requires the arrestee to submit to a chemical test.

During “No Refusal” enforcement periods, like this holiday weekend, the Tennessee Highway Patrol typically has a Tennessee judge (or judges) on call.  If a person is arrested for DUI and refuses to submit to a chemical test, and if the judge determines that the requisite legal grounds exist, the judge will issue a search warrant. This search warrant 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.

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, SteveSara, 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. Even during this busy holiday season, the DUI Defense attorneys at Oberman & Rice are available to speak with you 24/7.

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, 8th 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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Increased Jail Time for Some DUI Offenders in Tennessee

Beginning in July 2016, drunk drivers who have prior DUI convictions will face more severe penalties.[1] The Tennessee General Assembly has enacted a new law that amends Tennessee Code Annotated §55-10-402 and enhances the way Tennessee punishes offenders with multiple DUI convictions. These changes will apply only to those who commit an offense on or after July 1, 2016.

Previously, a conviction for a 4th offense or higher DUI was a Class E Felony. A Class E Felony carries a punishment of 1-6 years.[2] Starting on July 1, while a 4th or 5th offense conviction for DUI will remain a Class E Felony, a person who commits a 6th or subsequent offense will be sentenced as a Class C Felon. A Class C Felony is punishable by 3-15 years in the penitentiary.[3]

Although the mandatory minimum jail sentence for DUI offenders who have six or more convictions will not change, the maximum sentence increases significantly. People who are convicted of a 4th or subsequent offense must serve a mandatory minimum of 150 days in jail. However, based on statistics from 2015 in Tennessee, Class E Felons serve an average of 1.56 years in jail, while Class C Felons serve an average of 4.13 years in jail.[4] This change to the law should significantly increase the amount of incarceration for those who have six or more convictions for DUI.

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.

The author would like to thank his associate attorney, Anna Rickels, for her research and contributions to this article.

If you would like to contact the author, please visit: http://www.tndui.com

[1] http://share.tn.gov/sos/acts/109/pub/pc0876.pdf

[2] Tennessee Code Annotated §40-35-111(b)(5)

[3] Tennessee Code Annotated §40-35-111(b)(3)

[4] Sentencing Practices in Tennessee (April 2015) http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/docs/criminal_sentencing_stats_cy2014_draft_v2.pdf

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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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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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