New Tool to Aid Law Enforcement in D.U.I. Enforcement

Many road warriors across the country know that if you drink too much alcohol and operate a motor vehicle on a public roadway you may be arrested for Driving Under the Influence (D.U.I.). A lot of drivers are not aware that a D.U.I. charge may also arise out of the use of prescription medication and/or the use of marijuana (even if legal in your state to consume). The issue for law enforcement, however, is how to test for medications and marijuana traces from the person suspected of committing a D.U.I. based on the consumption of drugs alone and not alcohol (while not obtaining a blood sample). Law enforcement agencies have long implemented the use of a portable breath test device to detect the presence of alcohol on a suspect, but now- a new tool has been adopted by law enforcement agencies to combat drivers who are suspected to be impaired by drugs.

According to a recent U.S.A. Today article, the new tool for law enforcement agencies is a portable “lab” that can test the oral fluids of the alleged D.U.I. offender through a simple swab of the suspect’s mouth for saliva. The device is called the Dräger DrugTest® 5000. The device is supposed to determine if the driver has any traces (in their saliva) of drugs including, but not limited to: amphetamines, opiates, cocaine, and cannabinoids. As of the publishing of the U.S.A. Today article, law enforcement agencies in several cities have already implemented the device in the field.

Presumably, the use and science behind this new tool for law enforcement will be challenged in a court of law (much like the alcohol portable breath test device has been for years). Please remember if you or someone you know has been charged with a D.U.I. alleging alcohol or drug impairment, make sure to call and speak with one of our attorneys at the Oberman and Rice Law Firm. The Obermand and Rice Law Firm can be reached 24/7 at (865) 249-7200 or by email at oberman@tndui.com, sara@tndui.com or az@tndui.com.

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Don’t Drink and Scoot

On July 1, 2019, several new laws and modifications of current Tennessee DUI laws were implemented.  The first we will discuss (with more updates to follow on this blog) refers to all of the scooters that have become common place in most major downtown areas in Tennessee.  In downtown Knoxville, for example, you cannot walk a block without seeing these scooters available for rent.  In case you are not familiar with these scooters, one such company called Zagster has released these scooters for rent and places many of them around busy areas hoping for people passing by to rent one to travel (or scoot) around the city.  It is hard pressed to not see at least one person zooming along the street or sidewalk on one of these devices. 

The new law, mentioned above, aims to eliminate the problem of impaired people renting these scooters by making such an action punishable under Tennessee’s DUI laws.  As this recent article on WKRN states, these electric scooters will be considered motor-driven vehicles.  This language is important because under Tennessee’s DUI laws, the operator must be in physical control of a motor-driven vehicle to be arrested for a DUI.  As we have discussed previously on this blog (and at our website- www.tndui.com), if convicted of a DUI you face some of the following punishments: mandatory jail time (up to 48 hours on a First Offense); fines; required attendance of a Drug Education Course and a loss of your Tennessee driving privilege. 

Please remember that over this holiday weekend if you decide to enjoy the festivities in an area that allows for these scooters to be rented, please do not drink and scoot.  You may find yourself being placed under arrest for a DUI!  If you’ve been charged with Driving Under the Influence in Tennessee while on one of these scooters, operating a boat or while driving in your vehicle, please contact the Oberman and Rice Law Firm at (865) 249-7200.  We are available 24/7.

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THP set to combat distracted drivers with “Operation Incognito”

Drivers on the roads throughout Tennessee who are preparing for the Holiday Season need to be mindful as the Tennessee Highway Patrol initiates “Operation Incognito”. The campaign started on November 11 and plans to run through November 17.

The initiative’s goal is to combat distracted driving (texting while driving, etc.) on the roads of Tennessee. As THSO Director Vic Donoho states, “The primary focus of Operation Incognito is to reduce distracted driving, serious injury traffic crashes, and fatalities.”   Additionally, THSO Director Vic Donoho goes on to say that some secondary goals of “Operation Incognito” will be for the Tennessee Highway Patrol to saturate construction zones and attempt to increase driver’s awareness for utility maintenance zones.

The DUI defense lawyers at Oberman & Rice are always willing to help those who may receive any traffic citations during the Operation Incognito campaign and beyond. Traffic violations (if convicted) can add points to your driver’s license and cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket. Before you pay off a traffic citation and receive a conviction, it is important to discuss with a lawyer any potential penalties and consequences. Please review our website for more information or call us with questions at (865) 249-7200. Our lawyers are available 24/7.

 

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Tennessee Highway Patrol Planned Checkpoint For Labor Day 2018

Motorists in Knoxville need to be mindful during the upcoming Labor Day Weekend while driving to the lake or local pools to celebrate the “unofficial” end of summer. Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers will be out in force this Labor Day weekend ensuring that motorists are not driving while impaired or committing traffic violations.

The 2018 holiday enforcement period begins Saturday, September 1, and will include a sobriety checkpoint at East Emory Road at Longmire in Knox County, Tennessee.  Other checkpoints are scheduled throughout September for the East Tennessee area. For a list of all planed checkpoints in September 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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Fourth of July Holiday and Fireworks

With the Fourth of July Holiday quickly approaching, it is important to take a step back from the lake adventures and cookouts to think of our great country and how many of our forefathers fought and persevered for our country’s Independence around 242 years ago. As with every Fourth of July Holiday, the city of Knoxville will have a celebration (rain or shine) that culminates with Fireworks (free to the public) starting around 4:00 p.m. and the Fireworks to be deployed around 9:45 p.m. Information regarding the celebration may be found here.

All of us love fireworks (except for maybe our four-legged family members). Please remember that the City of Knoxville prohibits the possession, transportation, storage, manufacture, sale, handling and discharge of fireworks without a permit from the Fire Marshall (See the Knoxville Tennessee City Code of Ordinances, Section 11-5 through 11-7). Furthermore, violation of this City Ordinance is a Misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500.00 and/or 30 days in jail for each separate offense (See the Knoxville Tennessee City Code of Ordinances, Section 1-9; General penalty- continuing violations). In other words, shooting (even simply handling) fireworks without a permit in the City of Knoxville can lead to criminal prosecution that may result in a criminal conviction on your criminal public record that may hinder your ability to obtain a job or your ability to receive a scholarship for college/higher education. Additionally, Knox County (outside the city limits of Knoxville) does not allow the shooting/possession of fireworks.

The criminal defense lawyers at Oberman & Rice are always willing to help those who have been arrest or cited for a criminal offense. Our lawyers are available 24/7 to answer questions regarding an arrest or citation for any criminal offense. Please review our website for more information or call us with questions at (865) 249-7200.

 

 

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Restoration of Driving Privileges For HMVO Offenders

Three years from the date of a final order declaring a person an Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender, the person may file at petition seeking restoration of his or her driving privileges.  The petition may be filed with the court who entered the HMVO order or any criminal court in the person’s county of residence.  Although the law indicates a mandatory minimum 3-year period for the driver’s license revocation of an HMVO offender, upon the expiration of the 3 years, the offender is not permitted to drive in Tennessee.  The Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender must first obtain permission from a court and take the necessary steps thereafter to have his or her license reinstated by the Tennessee Department of Safety.

The court may, in its discretion, restore the person’s driving privilege and may also require.  The court may also order terms and conditions relating to the issuance of the habitual offender’s driver’s license.  The habitual offender is further required to meet all requirements of the Tennessee financial responsibility (insurance) law.

Although the law indicates a mandatory minimum 3-year period for the driver’s license revocation of an HMVO offender, upon the expiration of the 3 years, the offender is not permitted to drive in Tennessee.  The Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender must first obtain permission from a court and take the necessary steps thereafter to have his or her license reinstated by the Tennessee Department of Safety.  If the persons drives before completing the appropriate procedures, the HMVO offender may be subjected to criminal penalties.

If you have immediate questions about the Tennessee HMVO law, please feel free to the Oberman and Rice Law Firm at (865) 249-7200.

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Tennessee HMVO Violation Penalties

Once a person is declared an Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender, the penalties for driving are quite severe.  The person is prohibited from driving in Tennessee while the HMVO judgment or order prohibiting driving is in effect.  If found operating a motor vehicle, the HMVO offender commits a Class E felony.  No traffic or criminal violation is required for an HMVO violation–the only requirement is that the person be found to be operating a motor vehicle in Tennessee.

If convicted of the felony offense of Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender, the person may be sentenced to serve one to six years imprisonment and be subjected to a fine not exceeding $3,000.00.

If you have any questions about the Tennessee HMVO law or other Tennessee criminal offenses, please contact the Oberman and Rice Law Firm at (865) 249-7200.

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How To Be Declared a TN Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender

The Tennessee Department of Safety is tasked with keeping records of convictions of the HMVO qualifying offenses.  Once the records reveal that an individual has accumulated the appropriate number of convictions (3 within 5 years or 5 within 10 years), the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety shall furnish this record to the district attorney’s office in the district where the individual either resides or may be found.

Once the district attorney’s office receives the record, they have a duty to file a petition against the individual in the court of general criminal jurisdiction.  However, a record from the TDOS is not required before a petition may be filed.  After the petition is filed, the court must issue an Order directing the individual (defendant) named in the petition to appear in court to show cause why the person should not be barred from operating a motor vehicle in Tennessee.

If, following the proper procedures and findings, the court finds that the defendant is an habitual offender, the court shall then issue an order prohibiting the defendant from operating a moron vehicle in Tennessee.  The defendant is further required to surrender his or her driver’s license once declared an Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender.  The defendant is prohibited from driving under a court restores his or her driving privileges, and in no case may this restoration occur less than three years from the initial HMVO order date.

Please visit our blog in the coming days for discussions on the steps to have driving privileges restored and the criminal penalties associated with an HMVO violation.  Should you have any questions about the Tennessee Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender law, please feel free to the Oberman and Rice Law Firm at (865) 249-7200.

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Drinking and Boating

Like drinking and driving, the simple act of drinking and boating is not itself against the the law in Tennessee.  However, operating a watercraft (boat) that is subject to registration in Tennessee while under the influence is a criminal offense.  According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) the Memorial Day holiday weekend is one of the busiest boating weekends, as it is regarded as the unofficial start of summer.  TWRA officers are sure to be patrolling the waterways to enforce Tennessee boating safety.

Boaters in Tennessee are prohibited operating a boat “while under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, narcotic drug, or drug producing stimulating effects on the central nervous system.”  Tennessee Code Annotated § 69-9-217(a).  Tennessee law further provides a per se BUI law, i.e. boaters cannot operate a vessel while having a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater. Tennessee Code Annotated § 69-9-217(j)(2).

Like a Tennessee driving under the influence charge, the issues and laws surrounding a Tennessee BUI can be complicated and technical.  If you’ve been charged with Boating Under the Influence in Tennessee or have any questions about the offense of BUI, please contact the Oberman and Rice Law Firm at (865) 249-7200.

Additional information about Boating Under the Influence (BUI), as well as the related crime of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), can be also found on the Oberman & Rice websites at www.tndui.comand www.duiknoxville.com.

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Who Qualifies As a Tennessee Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender?

A Tennessee offender may be declared by a court to be an Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender (HMVO) if convicted of certain Tennessee crimes, specifically–three or more convictions within five years or five or more convictions within ten years.  The qualifying Tennessee crimes include:

  • Voluntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
  • Vehicular homicide;
  • Involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
  • Vehicular assault;
  • Improperly passing a stopped school bus;
  • Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in injury or death of any person;
  • Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted only in damage to a vehicle driven or attended by any person;
  • Driving under the influence (DUI);
  • Aggravated vehicular homicide;
  • Adult driving while impaired (Adult DWI);
  • Reckless Driving;
  • Drag Racing;
  • Evading arrest in a motor vehicle;
  • Reckless endangerment by use of a motor vehicle; or
  • Driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license if the underlying offense resulting in the cancellation, suspension, or revocation was vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or DUI.

 Please visit our blog in the coming days for discussions on how to be declared an Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender, the steps to have driving privileges restored, and the criminal penalties associated with an HMVO violation.  Should you have any questions about the Tennessee Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender law, please feel free to the Oberman and Rice Law Firm at (865) 249-7200.

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