Posts Tagged Driving Under the Influence

Happy Holidays from the Tennessee Highway Patrol- Sobriety Checkpoints

Motorists venturing to Grandmother’s house this holiday season in East Tennessee need to be very careful and prepared for delays while passing through several checkpoints throughout the end of the year and leading into the new year.   Tennessee Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies will be out in full force over the next few weeks to ensure that drivers heading to see family and friends are not operating their vehicle while impaired or committing traffic violations.

The 2019 Christmas/New Year holiday enforcement period has already started and will include several sobriety checkpoints in the following East Tennessee counties: Knox, Union, Campbell, Monroe, Morgan and Scott. For a full list of checkpoints please click here.

The DUI defense lawyers at Oberman & Rice are always willing to help those who may find themselves being arrested at one of these checkpoints or being cited for a traffic violation. If you or a loved one find yourself in need of a skilled trial lawyer, please make sure to contact one of our three law partners at (865) 249-7200 or by visiting www.tndui.com. Even though most law firms are closed during this holiday period, all of our lawyers will be available 24/7 to help you with any situation you may find yourself.  If we cannot be of assistance, then our firm will attempt to help find you someone who can. 

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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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Tennessee Legislature Addresses “Self Driving” Cars

If you have watched the news lately, you have probably heard of the automobile giant called Tesla. Tesla is famous for its work toward developing automated cars that operate without the need for a human driver. As one could imagine, vehicles driven without a person in total control behind the wheel could be potentially dangerous—there is always a risk of some sort of malfunction with the automated system or the driver being unresponsive to the warning messages from the automated system. One such example of this issue has already arisen in Ohio. In fact, even Tesla itself released a video warning of the potential dangers of the self-driven vehicles. States have started to take notice of these self-driving vehicles and some States have even started passing laws aimed at these types of automobiles.

For example, a new law that took affect in Tennessee on July 6, 2017, sets out requirements for operating an “Automated Driving System” or “ADS”. The “Automated Vehicles Act” as created by the Tennessee Legislature in Public Chapter No. 474 sets forth certain requirements in order for such ADS enabled vehicles to lawfully operate on Tennessee roads. This statute aims to lay out restrictions on ADS vehicles as well as determine liabilities for the ADS operated vehicles.

Interestingly, if the requirements for an ADS set forth by the statute are not followed, it is a Class A Misdemeanor for a person to knowingly operate the vehicle without a human driver in the driver’s seat, punishable up to 11 month and 29 days in jail. As more options become available for ADS vehicles, those who are interested in utilizing the technology must be vigilant to ensure their vehicles comply with the statutory requirements.

Anyone charged with a traffic offense or 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 traffic offenses, 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. The DUI Defense attorneys at Oberman & Rice are available to speak with you 24/7.

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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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How Do I Reinstate My Tennessee Driving Privileges?

Tennessee residents who have had their driving privileges revoked or suspended because of a Driving Under the Influence conviction (or because of other traffic issues) often want to know the steps required to reinstate their Tennessee driving privileges. There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer, however, because the requirements are unique for each individual and depend on the circumstances of the revocation or suspension.

Fortunately, the State of Tennessee has made it quite easy to answer this question. By visiting the following website and entering certain key information (last name, date of birth, Tennessee driver license/I.D. number, and Social Security Number), Tennessee residents may discover the individual requirements that they need to satisfy before the Department of Safety will reinstate their driver license. This website allows individuals to not only discover the reinstatement requirements if their driving privileges have been revoked, but one may also add an emergency contact to their license, order a duplicate license, document a change of address, or even obtain a driving history.

The Oberman & Rice law firm often deals with issues involving Tennessee driver licenses, often relating to Tennessee DUI offenses or other traffic issues.  Should you have any legal issues regarding your Tennessee driver license, our attorneys, Steve, Sara, and A.Z. are available to speak with you and can be reached by calling (865) 249-7200.

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THP Checkpoints Planned for Labor Day 2016 Weekend

Motorists need to remain vigilant over the next few days. Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers will be out in force this Labor Day weekend.

The 2016 holiday enforcement period begins Friday, Sept. 2, and concludes Monday, Sept. 5. Driver’s license checkpoints are planned in a number of Tennessee Counties. In East Tennessee, on Sept. 2 one is planned in Knox County at SR 33 @ Mt. Olive Church and another in Loudon County at Highway 444 @ Clear Creek Boat Ramp. For a list of all the planned checkpoints, click here.

THP Col. Tracy Trott has stated, “Our high-visibility enforcement effort which includes saturation patrols, bar and tavern checks and sobriety checkpoints, will help remove impaired drivers from Tennessee roadways. Our goal is to remove unsafe motorists from the roadway before they injure or kill themself or an innocent person. Troopers will be out in force working tirelessly across the state to ensure the summer period comes to a safe close.”

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.

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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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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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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All lawyers were not created equal — Hiring a Tennessee DUI Lawyer

Choosing the right Tennessee DUI lawyer is a critical decision that must be taken seriously.  A Driving Under the Influence charge is often the first interaction many people have with the criminal justice system, which naturally leads to stress and uncertainty about the criminal process and possible repercussions.  Many people often receive a flood of mail following a DUI arrest from attorneys, but it makes sense to carefully consider all options.

If you hire a lawyer and become dissatisfied with your choice, while your case is pending or even after a DUI conviction, it may be difficult to retain a different DUI attorney.  For instance, because it is so important to begin investigating a DUI quickly, our office is often reluctant to to take a case after another lawyer has been retained and precious time to investigate has been lost.   Therefore, the first decision should be made after considering the following:

  1. What is the focus of the attorney’s practice?  Are they, and for how long have they been primarily devoted to DUI defense?
  2. Has the lawyer had any complaints filed against him or her?
  3. What books and articles has the attorney published?
  4. Did the DUI attorney graduate from an ABA accredited law school?
  5. Has the Tennessee Commission on CLE & Specialization and the National College for DUI Defense certified the attorney as a DUI Defense Specialist?
  6. What reviews has the attorney received from lawyer review agencies like Avvo?
  7. Has the lawyer achieved Martindale-Hubbell’s™ prestigious “AV” (very high to preeminent) rating?
  8. When and how often has the attorney lectured to his or her peers about DUI Defense?

We encourage prospective clients to devote the appropriate time, usually 2 hours, to properly investigate and speak with an attorney about their case.  In our office, Steve and Sara are available every day of the year to discuss pending DUI charges.  Please contact us at 865-249-7200 with any questions.

 

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Impact of Out of State Convictions in Tennessee

The internet and electronic record keeping has led to the end of a time when what “happened in Vegas, stayed in Vegas.”  Similarly, criminal convictions from a distant state may no longer be ignored after a person moves away from that state.  As law enforcement, court clerk’s offices, and agencies responsible for drivers licenses continue to store and share information electronically, a person’s criminal history is increasingly likely to follow him or her across state lines.

For example, a prior DUI conviction from another state may significantly increase potential penalties and the outcome of a Tennessee DUI case, just as would a prior Tennessee DUI conviction.  State and federal agencies are increasingly accurate and reliable in their effort to report crimes to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).  By accessing the NCIC, any state or federal prosecutor may quickly review an individual’s entire criminal history, including charges that have been dismissed.

Prior charges and convictions may negatively impact pending DUI litigation.  As a result, it is imperative that anyone facing criminal charges fully disclose these charges to their Tennessee Defense Attorney, even if the prior charges have been dismissed and expunged.

Please contact our office to find out more about convictions in other states and how to address them as part of a DUI defense strategy.  You may contact our Tennessee DUI defense lawyers, Steve and Sara by calling (865) 249-7200.

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Knoxville Sobriety Checkpoint Scheduled for February 1, 2013

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) continues its drunk driving enforcement with the use of sobriety checkpoints in the Knoxville.  THP is scheduled to conduct a DUI Roadblock tonight, February 1, 2013 on Concord Road at Northshore Drive (State Route 332).  Although specific times have not been released, the Tennessee Highway Patrol Media Release indicates that it will be conducted “Late Night.”  The Knox County DUI Checkpoint is one among many in East Tennessee as part of the campaign, “Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk This Super Bowl Sunday.”

According to Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott, this will be the first THP “No Refusal” DUI enforcement on Super Bowl weekend.  One purpose of Tennessee DUI Checkpoints is to deter motorists from driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.  We encourage you to arrange for a designated driver this weekend.  AAA of East Tennessee is also offering their safe ride program for Super Bowl Sunday.  AAA will tow your car within a 10 mile radius and provide you a safe ride home.  To take advantage of this service, a AAA membership is not needed.

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.

 

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Will I be able to rent a car after a DUI conviction?

Many people are unaware of the many collateral consequences of a DUI conviction.  One generally understood consequence of a conviction for Driving Under the Influence, First Offense, in Tennessee is the loss of a driver license for one year.  Even though a restricted driver license may be obtained for many people convicted of a DUI, First Offense, a restricted driver license will typically not suffice to rent a motor vehicle.  Most, if not all, national rental agencies require a renter to provide a valid driver license.  Therefore, the possibility of renting a car will not be an option for at least a year after a conviction for Driving Under the Influence in Tennessee.

Even after the Tennessee driver license reinstatement of someone convicted of DUI, the ability to rent a car may be limited due to insurance concerns.  Individual rental companies may respond differently to a prior DUI conviction.  Therefore, the best course of action would be to contact a sales representative before a rental car is reserved online and relied upon for transportation.  Higher rates, travel restrictions, and special insurance may be required to rent a vehicle, so it makes sense to shop around and compare policies and rates.

Please click here for additional information about the collateral consequences (other consequences) of a DUI conviction.  An experienced Tennessee Defense Lawyer should be consulted about all of the possible consequences of a Driving Under the Influence conviction.  Steve and Sara are available to answer questions about the consequences of a Tennessee DUI and may be reached by calling 865-249-7200.

 

 

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Knoxville Area Sobriety Checkpoints Begin Tonight

A media release from the Tennessee Highway Patrol dated December 27, 2012 details the agency’s statewide plan for New Year’s Eve DUI enforcement.  In addition to the “no refusal” enforcement discussed in my last post, THP also plans to implement several checkpoints between now and New Year’s Day.  These include not only sobriety checkpoints (DUI roadblocks), but also “no refusal” sobriety checkpoints and driver’s license checkpoints.

Tennessee Highway Patrol regulations generally require that every driver passing through a checkpoint location be stopped and questioned.  Troopers will be investigating for signs of drug and alcohol impairment.  If they suspect that you are under the influence, you may be asked to exit your vehicle and perform certain roadside tasks, often referred to as 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 from directly from the Tennessee Highway Patrol press release.  Information for additional DUI roadblocks across Tennessee can be downloaded by clicking here.

Should you be arrested for DUI or arrested or cited for another criminal offense or traffic violation, it is important that you consult with a Tennessee attorney as soon as possible.  Our attorneys,  Steve and Sara, will be available to speak with you and can be reached by calling 865-249-7200.

DIST. 1 KNOXVILLE — No Refusal New Year’s Eve Checkpoints

Friday, December 28:

Checkpoint               County                   Road/Highway                             Time of Day

SOBRIETY                    BLOUNT                 O. KNOX HWY @ I-140 RAMP       LATE NIGHT

 Monday, December 31:

Checkpoint             County            Road/Highway                               Time of Day

SOBRIETY *               SEVIER            GOOSE GAP @ SUGAR LOAF RD        LATE NIGHT

DL CHECKPOINT    CAMPBELL      STATE ROUTE 116 @                           LATE MORNING

LITTLE COVE RD

SOBRIETY                  ANDERSON     SR 62 @ KNOX/ANDERSON              LATE NIGHT

CO LINE

SOBRIETY                  LOUDON         US 70 @ CREEKWOOD BLVD             AFTERNOON

Tuesday, January 1:

Checkpoint     County              Road/Highway                                               Time of Day

SOBRIETY*        KNOX                 STATE ROUTE 162 @ STATE ROUTE 62              LATE NIGHT

SOBRIETY*        SEVIER              WINFIELD DUNN PKWY @ DOUGLAS DAM             LATE NIGHT

SOBRIETY*        SEVIER              STATE ROUTE 66 @ STATE ROUTE 139                LATE NIGHT

SOBRIETY*        SEVIER              US 411 @ CHEROKEE CR                                      LATE NIGHT

SOBRIETY*        BLOUNT            I-140 @ STATE ROUTE 33                                   LATE NIGHT

*No Refusal DUI Checkpoint

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Wishing You a Safe & Happy New Year

The Knoxville Police Department has announced plans for a “New Year Holiday Enforcement Campaign.”  The increased enforcement will focus on motorists who are speeding, following too closely or driving recklessly, as well as those who show signs of impaired driving (driving under the influence).  More information about the KPD holiday enforcement plans can be found by clicking here.  The increased patrols will begin at 4 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and conclude at midnight on New Year’s Day.

Should you or a loved one be arrested for DUI (driving under the influence) or related charges, the attorneys at Oberman & Rice are available to assist you.  You may contact Steve and Sara 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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Knox County, TN Sobriety Checkpoints

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is planning sobriety checkpoints in Knox County, Tennessee.  These checkpoints are also frequently referred to as DUI roadblocks or DWI roadblocks.  Prior to administering such a DUI roadblock, the police (THP in this case) are legally required to advise the public of the location and times of the roadblock/sobriety checkpoint.

The lawyers at Oberman & Rice would like to repeat the information publicized by the Knoxville News-Sentinel in reference to the location and times of the roadblocks.  They are:  Friday, November 9, 2012 starting at 11:00 PM on Maryville Pike at Mt. Olive Baptist Church South; and Friday, December 7, 2012 starting at 11 p.m. on Oak Ridge Highway at Pellissippi Parkway.

Please be on the lookout for and drive cautiously near these DUI roadblocks.  There will likely be a lot of law enforcement personnel in the area.

Anyone detained and then arrested at a Tennessee Sobriety Checkpoint or Driver’s License Roadside Safety Checkpoint should immediately contact a Tennessee attorney familiar with DUI Roadblocks or Driver’s License Checkpoints.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about your legal rights relating to a Tennessee Highway Patrol roadblock, Steve and Sara are available by calling (865) 249-7200.

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Could I be charged after the fact if my friend got a DUI in my car in which I was a passenger?

Law enforcement officers investigating a potential crime make important decisions about who to arrest.  At the scene of a suspected DUI an officer may decide to arrest and charge both the driver and passenger of a vehicle with the offense of Driving Under the Influence.  Depending on the circumstances, an officer may choose to only arrest the driver of the vehicle if the officer suspects DUI.

The state prosecutor, however, is not required to follow the officer’s decisions.  After an arrest is made, a prosecutor may learn of additional facts, like the ownership of the vehicle involved in the crime.  In response to this knowledge, a prosecutor may issue additional arrest warrants for uncharged defendants or increase the severity of the charges.

In most DUI cases, the prosecutor has one year from the date of the offense to bring charges – the statute of limitations for Tennessee misdemeanor offenses.  For more serious DUI-related offenses involving multiple offenses, bodily injury, or death, the prosecutor may take up to 15 years to bring charges.

The criminal defense attorneys at Oberman & Rice are able to provide advice and counsel both before and after arrest.  Should you have any questions about a Tennessee DUI issue, you may contact Steve and Sara by calling (865) 249-7200.  Our Tennessee DUI website, provides additional information about the crime of DUI and its associated penalties.

[Source: Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-2-101 & § 40-2-102]

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DUI Vehicle Forfeiture: What you should know if you receive a “Notice of Seizure”

The Tennessee Department of Safety, through law enforcement officers, may seize the vehicle of anyone suspected of multiple DUIs.  A vehicle may also be seized from anyone found to be driving on a revoked, cancelled, or suspended license if the reason for the revoked, cancelled, or suspended license was a DUI conviction.  In other words, a person convicted of a DUI risks vehicle seizure if he or she is found to be driving without a valid license or is suspected of DUI, regardless of whether there is a conviction.

When a citizen’s property is seized, the government, which is typically be represented by the Tennessee Department of Safety in cases involving vehicle and asset forfeiture, must follow the rules.  Multiple state laws, court cases, and administrative rules govern the forfeiture process.  Furthermore,  constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures and against excessive fines may apply to forfeiture proceedings just as they do criminal proceedings.

The Department of Safety rules and regulations are complicated and often intimidating.  Nevertheless, failure to take action within strict time limits may result in the loss of property rights.  If you or someone you know has had property seized by law enforcement, it is important to contact a Tennessee criminal attorney immediately.  You may contact Steve and Sara by calling (865) 249-7200.  You may also wish to review our website for additional information about forfeitures.

[Source: T.C.A. Section 55-10-401 et seq., Williams v. State Dept. of Safety, 854 S.W.2d 102 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1993), Stuart v. State Dept. of Safety, 963 S.W.2d 28 (Tenn. 1998)]

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DUI: Misdemeanor or Felony?

A First Offense DUI in Tennessee is always a Misdemeanor (sentence of less than 1 year in jail) if no accidents, injuries, or deaths result from the offense.  However, all DUI convictions require defendants to serve at least 48 hours in jail, which is a harsher punishment than a defendant would receive for most other Misdemeanors.

Even though Second and Third Offense DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, the mandatory minimum sentences are 45 and 120 days respectively for Second and Third Offenses.  A Fourth or subsequent DUI Offense is a Felony Offense (sentence of 1 year or more in jail) and, upon conviction, requires that a defendant serve 150 days in jail.  These mandatory jail sentences are significantly harsher than mandatory minimum sentences for nearly every other Misdemeanor Offense.

Jail time is one of many penalties that are unique to DUI.  Please visit TNDUI.COM for more details about the penalties for DUI offenses in Tennessee.   A Tennessee DUI attorney can help you avoid the harshest punishment.  Please contact Knoxville DUI attorneys Steve and Sara at (865) 249-7200 if you have any DUI-related questions.

[Source: T.C.A. 55-10-403]

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Can I be convicted of DUI when in a parked vehicle?

Yes.  In Tennessee, it is possible to be convicted of a DUI while sitting in a parked vehicle with or without the engine running.  According to Tennessee DUI law, a state prosecutor need only prove that an impaired person was “in physical control” of an “automobile or motor driven vehicle” in order to obtain a conviction.   Court decisions in Tennessee have confirmed that a person, in a parked car, with the keys in the ignition, may be convicted of a DUI.

However, the DUI law in Tennessee does not assure that the state prosecutor will succeed in such a case.  A person is not ‘automatically’ guilty when found in a vehicle with the keys in the ignition.  A Tennessee DUI attorney should investigate the location of arrest, actions of law enforcement, and any proof of impairment in order to find additional weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.

Regardless of a defendant’s location and circumstances, everyone accused of a DUI should consult with a DUI attorney as soon as possible.  If you have questions about the facts of a case, Steve and Sara are ready to help you.  You may reach all of our attorneys by calling (865) 249-7200.

[Source: T.C.A. 55-10-401]

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Tennessee Laws Get Tougher

At least two Tennessee laws have made it more difficult to defend persons accused of driving under the influence and, in another change, the DUI penalty when accompanied by someone under the age of 18 has increased.

The 2012 Tennessee Legislature amended Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-406, also known as the Implied Consent Law.  This law applies when an officer requests the suspect to submit to chemical testing (blood, breath, or urine).  The amendment clarified that an individual may be compelled to submit to a chemical testing if the testing is mandated by:

  1. A Court Order;
  2. A search warrant; or
  3. When a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of another is guilty of vehicular  homicide, aggravated vehicular homicide, or DUI.

 

The Legislature also amended Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-402 to clarify that no defense to DUI exists when a person is under the influence of an intoxicant even if they are entitled to lawfully use the substance/intoxicant.

Moreover, the penalty for a person convicted of DUI who was accompanied by a person under the age of 18 was enhanced.  It now requires a mandatory minimum period of 30 days in jail and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.00.  This law, which amended Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-403, states that the incarceration enhancement must be served in addition to, and at the conclusion of, any jail time and fine otherwise imposed for the underlying DUI offense.  Likewise, the fine enhancement must be in addition to any fine imposed by law as a result of the Tennessee DUI conviction.

Laws such as these emphasize the importance of hiring a Tennessee lawyer who is educated about the newest laws and prepared to aggressively defend you.  Too many people are wrongfully accused of driving under the influence and related charges.  If you would like further information about these laws, or your case, you may contact the Oberman and Rice Law Firm at (865) 249-7200.

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Your blood can now be taken by someone not certified to do so.

In his March 7, 2012 post, Steve Oberman posed the question, “Would you want your blood taken by someone not certified to do so?” He was referring to Tennessee Senate Bill 2787/House Bill 2858, which eliminates the requirement that a phlebotomist permitted to draw blood from a Tennessee DUI suspect be certified or nationally registered.  I am sorry to report that this bill passed, becoming Public Chapter No. 0666, and became effective on April 4, 2012.

This new law allows blood to be drawn by a “trained phlebotomist who is operating under a hospital protocol, has completed phlebotomy training through an educational entity providing such training, or has been properly trained by a current or former employer to draw blood.”  The website www.phlebotomycertificationguide.com explains the typical certification process for phlebotomists and provides training course length than ranges from 4 to 24 months.  As discussed in Steve’s previous post, Tennessee law does not specify the amount of training required.  Certainly a very minimal amount of training could qualify one under this new law considering  the fact that the person need only receive training from “a current or former employer.”

The lawyers at Oberman & Rice continue to monitor pending legislation that impacts the criminally accused, paying particular attention to those involving Tennessee DUI cases.  Should you have any questions about a pending Tennessee DUI law or issue, you may contact Steve, Sara, or Nate by calling (865) 249-7200.  You may also wish to review our website for additional information about Tennessee DUI Laws by clicking here.

 

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Would you want your blood taken by someone not certified to do so?

In 2012 Senate Bill 2787, Senator Brian Kelsey, a Republican from Germantown (part of Shelby County), has sponsored a bill allowing a person who is “properly trained,” but not necessarily certified to draw the blood of a person suspected of DUI to determine alcohol and/or drug content. What should concern Tennessee citizens is that this bill removes the requirement found in current law (T.C.A. Section 55-10-410 which deals with drawing blood in driving under the influence/implied consent violation situations) that the person drawing the blood shall be:

A registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, clinical laboratory technologist, clinical laboratory technician, licensed emergency medical technician, licensed paramedic or, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, licensed emergency medical technician approved to establish intravenous catheters, technologist, or certified and/or nationally registered phlebotomist or at the direction of a medical examiner or other physician holding an unlimited license to practice medicine in Tennessee under procedures established by the department of health.

Remarkably, there are no provisions in this bill detailing the amount of training or even requiring that the person drawing the blood pass a proficiency test.  Nor are there provisions requiring a judge to determine that probable cause (the legal grounds required for arrest) exists before the blood is taken from the body.

While I am certainly far from a health care professional, I have had substantial experience as a non-certified phlebotomist when I worked in a hospital blood laboratory, albeit about 35 years ago.  I am aware of some of the potential complications from an improper blood draw such as thrombophlebitis, infection, damage to blood vessels, hematoma/bruising, and damage to the nerves near the venipuncture site.

Moreover, the proposed law gives no consideration to the fact that the officer may suffer from a contagious disease, is working in poor lighting conditions, or may be distracted by law enforcement duties during the blood draw. If a medical condition occurs during a blood draw—the criminally accused would have no immediate access to a healthcare provider for treatment.  In some situations, such as infection, the symptoms, etc. may manifest long after the actual blood draw.

Not surprisingly, the proposed law provides that the person drawing blood shall not incur any civil or criminal liability as a result of drawing the blood, except for damages that may result from negligence.  This means that a law enforcement officer with minimal training would be allowed to draw blood from a suspect with their arm on the hood of the police vehicle or similar unsterile environment.  This could be done without supervision from any other person, opening the door to abuse and negligence that would be difficult to prove except in a rare circumstance where the invasion of one’s body would be documented by video.

In 2006, Ann Japenga, a reporter for the New York Times, wrote about her debilitating injury that, after much suffering, was determined to have been caused by the needle going through her vein and causing dangerous but invisible bleeding into her arm.  The injury, caused by a phlebotomist in her doctor’s office, required surgery “to prevent permanent loss of the use of [her] arm, as well as a condition called “claw hand” that causes your digits to curl up like a sea anemone.”  The full article can be accessed here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/30/health/30case.html.

Simply allowing the injured party to sue for negligence, as Senator Kelsey proposes, is not an appropriate remedy.  This type of case would have limited allowances for recovery.  With few exceptions, Tennessee law limits recovery against governmental entities to the amount of $300,000.00 pursuant to The Governmental Tort Liability Act.  Furthermore, this type of recovery would likely require the services of a civil lawyer who would (and should) charge a fee for his or her services.  Accordingly, the injured party would likely receive less than two-thirds of a recovery after attorney fees.  Moreover, expert fees, deposition costs and other trial expenses would have to be borne by the injured party.

If you have ever had a medical professional who is certified to draw your blood need to “stick” you on several occasions to obtain a sufficient sample, you can only imagine the type of abuse a suspect would receive from an uncertified law enforcement official.  I urge you to contact your Legislator to vote against this bill.

It is also most interesting that Senator Kelsey is sponsoring another bill making it a crime that carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail for a law enforcement officer to unlawfully install a tracking device on a person or object (2012 Senate Bill 3046).  If he doesn’t trust a police officer to comply with a citizen’s right to privacy, how in the world would he expect an officer not to abuse a suspect when they stick a sharp object into their arm or other part of their body?

The lawyers at Oberman & Rice frequently monitor pending legislation that impacts the criminally accused, paying particular attention to those involving Tennessee DUI cases.  Should you have any questions about a Tennessee DUI issue, you may contact Steve, Sara, or Nate by calling (865) 249-7200.  You may also wish to review our website for additional information about Tennessee DUI Laws by clicking here.

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Spring 2012 Sobriety and Safety Checkpoints In Knox County

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has announced plans to conduct at least six checkpoints over the next two months, from March 9 through April 20, 2012.  The planned checkpoints are not always labeled Sobriety Checkpoints or DUI Roadblocks.  Some checkpoints are referred to as Driver’s License Roadside Safety Checkpoints.

It is important for Tennessee motorist to understand that even if a checkpoint is designed to verify driver’s licenses, the Troopers conducting the stops are trained to detect and investigate those drivers they suspect of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). For instance, the THP participates in the Governor’s Highway Safety Office campaign–Booze It & Lose It!

The announced locations for checkpoints, as reported in the Knoxville News Sentinel, are:

Friday, March 9 – Schaad Road – West of Pleasant Ridge Road

Friday, March 23 – Oak Ridge Highway (Route 62) – East of Pellissippi Parkway (Route 162)

Friday, April 6 – Maynardville Highway (Route 33) – At Loyston Road

Friday, April 13 –  Schaad Road – West of Pleasant Ridge Road

Friday, April 20 – Schaad Road – West of Pleasant Ridge Road

Anyone detained and then arrested at a Sobriety Checkpoint or Driver’s License Roadside Safety Checkpoint should immediately contact a Tennessee attorney familiar with DUI Roadblocks or Driver’s License Checkpoints.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about your legal rights relating to a Tennessee Highway Patrol roadblock, Sara, Steve, or Nate are available by calling (865) 249-7200.

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How long can a person go to jail for a Tennessee DUI?

The number of prior DUI convictions in a defendant’s past significantly affects the amount of jail time a defendant may expect to serve if he or she is convicted of a Tennessee DUI.  It is important to note that the prior convictions need not be from Tennessee.  Even out of state DUI convictions can be used against a person accused of committing a Tennessee DUI offense.

Tennessee DUI law requires minimum amounts of jail time to be served for all DUI convictions.  If a defendant is convicted of a DUI, the judge MUST sentence that defendant to the minimum amount of time established by Tennessee DUI law, ranging from 48 hours in jail up to 150 days in jail, depending upon the offense.  On the other hand, the judge may sentence a defendant to more than the mandatory minimum amount of time – this is more likely to occur with multiple convictions.  Please visit our website for a full list of penalties for DUI convictions.

TN DUI lawyers know that any time in jail causes a major disruption in a person’s life, which is why anyone charged with DUI in Tennessee should consult with a Tennessee DUI attorney as soon as possible.  If you have questions about your Tennessee DUI charge and associated penalties, our lawyers are available to assist you.  Sara, Steve, or Nate will be happy to speak with you at (865) 249-7200.  

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Is it possible to fight a blood or breath test in a DUI case?

A Tennessee DUI lawyer should never take a chemical or breath test at face value.  Different testing procedures are used across Tennessee to determine the amount of alcohol in a driver’s blood.  Some Tennessee law enforcement agencies choose to draw blood from a DUI suspect, others use a breath test, and some even obtain a urine sample for analysis.

No matter what testing mechanism is used, the tests are not foolproof.  Machines malfunction.  Like a toaster, dishwasher, or hair dryer, machines wear down and break over time. Devices that collect and analyze blood, breath and urine are no different.  Some machines and methods are less reliable than others.  The tests are further subject to error by those persons involved in the collection and analysis processes.

A Tennessee DUI attorney should be familiar with the different tests and machines used in Tennessee.  Hiring a motivated Criminal Defense lawyer gives someone the opportunity to fight all of the facts.  In some cases, it may be possible to prevent the chemical test result from being used as evidence.

Additional information about Tennessee DUI offenses can be found on our websites at www.tndui.com and www.duiknoxville.com.   You may also speak with one of our attorneys, You may reach Steve Oberman, Sara Compher-Rice or Nate Evans, by calling (865) 249-7200.

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What if a person accidentally misses a court date for a Tennessee DUI?

Court dates should always be a defendant’s highest priority, aside from urgent family emergencies.  If a person expects to miss a court date or has missed a court date in the past, he should contact his attorney as soon as possible.

When a person misses a court date, the court may issue a warrant for that person’s arrest or may charge that person with “Failure to Appear” in court, a separate, Class A Misdemeanor.  The effect of a missed court date will vary in each case depending on the presiding judge, the facts of the case, the amount of advance notice provided to the court, and the practices of the local county.

If a good reason exists as to why a person will miss a court date, a judge may show leniency.  In this type of situation, an experienced Tennessee Criminal Defense lawyer will work to avoid an arrest or incarceration for his or her client.  If you missed your court date and do not have a Tennessee Criminal Defense lawyer working for you, contact one immediately.

If you have questions about your Tennessee DUI or other criminal charge, our lawyers are available to assist you.  Sara, Steve, or Nate will be happy to speak with you at (865) 249-7200.  You may also review our websites at www.tndui.com, www.duiknoxville.com and www.tncriminaldefense.com.

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Can A Prior Out-Of-State Conviction Be Used Against You?

If my prior DUI conviction was in another state, can it be used in Tennessee to charge me with a second offense DUI?

Any DUI conviction from another state may be used against you if arrested for a Tennessee DUI offense.  If the time criteria is met, a prior, out-of-state DUI may be used to enhance your Tennessee DUI conviction to a DUI second offense or greater, depending upon the facts of your prior conviction(s).  Tennessee does honor DUI convictions from all other jurisdictions in the country.

It is important to note that the arresting officer may not know about the out-of-state conviction(s) at the time of the Tennessee DUI arrest.  The officer’s initial arrest warrant, and any paperwork a person receives following a DUI arrest, may state that the charge is DUI, first offense.   However, the state prosecutor may amend the initial Tennessee DUI charge to multiple offense DUI  when more information becomes available.

Tennessee DUI law allows for a person to challenge an out-of-state conviction, and a skilled DUI attorney may prevent it from being used against you in your Tennessee DUI case.  Be sure to consult with a Tennessee Defense Attorney to determine if a conviction in another state could be used against you.  A successful challenge to an out-of-state conviction could make a significant difference in a defendant’s case and punishment.

[Source: Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-403]

 

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Expungement of a Tennessee DUI

Can a Tennessee DUI conviction be expunged from my criminal record?

If you are convicted of a Tennessee DUI offense, the conviction cannot be erased from your criminal record. Only a dismissed charge may be expunged. Any conviction in Tennessee remains on a person’s criminal record forever unless a pardon is issued by the governor after a careful review by the Board of Probation and Parole.

Accordingly, if a person pleads guilty to a DUI in Tennessee, that person will not be eligible to have the charge dismissed or expunged.  However, a person charged with a DUI may not need to plead guilty to a DUI.  This is one reason why it is important to have an experienced Tennessee DUI attorney review your case before entering into any plea agreement that results in a criminal conviction.

[Sources: Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-403; § 40-35-313; § 40-27-102]

 


 

 

 

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The Overlooked Costs of a Tennessee DUI Charge

Most people do not recognize the varied costs associated with a DUI charge.  Although the exact cost is difficult to determine without knowing the facts of your case, the costs you may encounter (excluding attorney fees) include, but are not limited to:

  • Investigation expenses (scene photos, witness interviews, etc.)
  • Police communication tapes (911) and transcription
  • Police videotapes and transcription
  • Field sobriety test expert fees
  • Chemical test (blood, breath or urine) expert fees
  • Technology fees (e.g. to play the police video in court)
  • Fees/court costs associated with conviction (e.g. $40.00 ignition interlock fee for all DUI convictions; $250.00 chemical test fee; $100.00 assessment etc.)
  • Mandatory minimum fines ($350 for a DUI 1st Offense; $600.00 for a DUI 2nd Offense; $1,100.00 for a DUI 3rd Offense; and $3,000.00 for a DUI 4th or subsequent Offense)
  • Increased insurance premiums for a minimum of 3 to 5 years
  • Lost income from lost job opportunities
  • Costs related to probation (litter pick-up fees; probation fees; DUI school; Ignition interlock device; SCRAM device; alcohol treatment)
  • Driver’s license reinstatement fees
  • Costs associated for alternative transportation if you are not permitted a restricted driver’s license

As you can see, depending upon the facts of your case and whether you are ultimately convicted of DUI, a DUI arrest can be quite costly.

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The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Field Sobriety Test (HGN)

Have you ever seen a law enforcement officer examining the eyes of a motorist along the roadside or on television?  Ever wonder what the officer is looking for?  The officer is most likely administering one of the three standardized field sobriety tests to help determine if the motorist is impaired.  In this week’s podcast, host Steve Oberman will provide a summary of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, also referred to as HGN, used by law enforcement to assist in the detection of impaired motorists.

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Additional information about the Tennessee offense of DUI can be found on the Oberman & Rice websites at www.tndui.com and www.duiknoxville.com.  You may also contact Steve or Sara for more information by calling (865) 249-7200.

You can also watch a video version of this podcast on YouTube.

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The Walk and Turn Field Sobriety Test

Every day, law enforcement officers must decide whether to arrest a suspect for DUI.  They have to determine whether the person’s ability to drive is impaired below normal or whether their blood alcohol content exceeds the legal limit of .08%.  One of the tools they use is the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) battery recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This battery consists of 3 tests: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the Walk and Turn and the One Leg Stand tests.

In this week’s podcast  Steve Oberman provides a summary of the standardized Walk and Turn test. If you have not done so already, you should first listen to the previous podcast entitled “The History of Field Sobriety Tests,” which can be found by clicking here.

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Additional information about the Walk and Turn test, as well as the remaining standardized field sobriety tests, can be found on the Oberman & Rice websites at www.tndui.com and www.duiknoxville.com.  You may also contact Steve or Sara for more information by calling (865) 249-7200.

You can also watch a video version of this podcast on YouTube.

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Knoxville, TN Ignition Interlock Device Coupon (Free Installation)

As discussed in previous blog posts, New TN Ignition Interlock Device Laws–Part 1, New TN Ignition Interlock Device Laws–Part 2, and New TN Ignition Interlock Device Laws–Part 3, many Tennessee DUI offenders may be required by law to have an ignition interlock device installed their vehicle.

The Oberman and Rice Law Firm has discovered a fantastic coupon offering free installation and, in some instances, free first month’s lease for the Guardian Interlock device.  Click here to obtain a copy of this coupon.

This offer is only valid at the following authorized Guardian Interlock distributor:

National Auto Parts, Inc.
4733 Clinton Highway
Knoxville, TN 37912
(865) 687-6061

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How Many People Drive Under the Influence Each Year?

The Oberman & Rice Law Firm is pleased to announce the creation of The DUI Law Podcast.  The DUI Law Podcast features former Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc., and managing attorney of Oberman & Rice, Steve Oberman.  Each episode Steve will expound on a different area of DUI laws, including, but not limited to, information about the DUI arrest, the science surrounding DUI laws, and how to choose the best DUI attorney to handle your case.

We hope you enjoy the first episode, in which Steve reviews a recent study relating to how many people drive while under the influence each year.

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How Many People Drive Drunk

Click here to view a video of this podcast.

You can also watch a video version of this podcast on YouTube.

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In an Average Year 30 Million Americans Drive Drunk – 10 Million Drive Impaired by Illicit Drugs

On Dec. 9 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the US government (SAMHSA) indicated that on average 13.2 percent of all persons 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol and 4.3 percent of this age group drove under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year.

This self reporting survey reported dramatic differences among age groups.  Younger drivers aged 16 to 25 had a much higher rate of drunk driving than those aged 26 or older (19.5 percent versus 11.8 percent).

Similarly, people aged 16 to 25 had a much higher rate of driving under the influence of illicit drugs than those aged 26 or older (11.4 percent versus 2.8 percent).

The good news reported in the survey is that there has been a reduction in the rate of drunk and drugged driving in the past few years.  When compared to the survey data from 2002 through 2005, the data gathered from 2006 to 2009 indicate that the average yearly rate of drunk driving has declined from 14.6 percent to 13.2 percent, while the average yearly rate of drugged driving has decreased from 4.8 percent to 4.3 percent.  This National Survey on Drug Use and Health involved responses from more than 423,000 respondents aged 16 or over.

A copy of the entire government report is accessible at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/205/DruggedDriving.cfm.

For the latest information about the public health risks of alcohol misuse one can go to https://www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking-topic. This site provides updated information about the risks, such as drunk driving, as well as new and effective prevention strategies and activities.

In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a Web site at http://www.stopimpaireddriving.org/ that provides detailed information about the dangers of drunk and drugged driving and what can be done to help combat the problem.

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Vanilla Extract: Not Just For Baking Anymore?

The following entry was authored by guest contributor Nicky Uribe, a 3L law student at The University of Tennessee College of Law, who is working as a law clerk this summer at Oberman & Rice.

The sweet smell of vanilla can send many of us back to our mother’s kitchen.  Whether she was baking cookies or cake, maybe even pancakes, she probably used vanilla extract.  For many cooks, vanilla extract is a pantry constant and they would not be caught dead without a bottle.  Believe it or not, though, some people abuse vanilla extract.  In fact, cooking extracts along with other common household items may be abused by alcoholics.

WATE TV News reported on July 2, 2010 that Germantown’s Ms. Kelly Moss was arrested on charges of DUI and refusing a blood alcohol test.  The police reportedly found Ms. Moss slumped over her steering wheel. You may be wondering, “What does this have to do with vanilla extract?”  Everything.  Ms. Moss had no alcoholic beverages in her possession.  Indeed, the police did not accuse her of consuming any; she was found with diet cola cans and partially empty bottles of vanilla extract.

It could have been a perfect recipe for a vanilla cola, but Ms. Moss’s history makes it more likely than not that she was attempting to become intoxicated from the high alcohol content in vanilla extract.  On July 7, 2010, CBS reported that this was Ms. Moss’s third DUI arrest.  Vanilla extract is 35% alcohol per volume. Ms. Moss apparently mixed the extract into diet cola.  Witnesses stated that they became concerned when her vehicle jumped a curb.  That incident, along with her inability to walk, slurred speech, and partially empty extract bottles, gave the police probable cause to arrest her.  We cannot know all of the particulars in this case.  Yet one thing seems clear, anyone who resorts to abusing common household items such as extracts, cleaners, cough medicine, or mouthwash to become intoxicated needs help.

No one should abuse substances.  Even vanilla extract, in large amounts, can 1) make you sick and 2) intoxicate you.  The mere fact that a substance is not an alcoholic beverage does not make it safe to consume in large amounts.  Abusing extract and the like do not make one less of an alcoholic.  Also, those who believe that drinking extract until impaired and then driving precludes a DUI charge are misguided and misinformed.  If you, or anyone you know abuses these substances, encourage them to seek the help immediately.

For more information on substance abuse treatment programs in Tennessee, click here.  For assistance with a DUI related legal matter, please contact the Oberman and Rice Law Firm. Steven Oberman and Sara Compher-Rice are available 24 hours a day to assist you with your legal matter.

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Where Does the Chemical Test Fee Go?

Most would assume that any money collected from Tennessee criminal defendants required to pay a blood alcohol or drug concentration fee would then be used for purposes related to Tennessee DUI enforcement, DUI investigation or the blood, breath, or urine testing itself.  In fact, all fees collected prior to July 1, 2010 were mandated to be used, in part, “to purchase, maintain and upgrade the equipment and supplies necessary to examine and analyze, in a timely manner, the increased number of requests for determinations of alcohol concentration, the presence of narcotic or other drugs, or for both alcohol or drugs, in submitted blood samples resulting from permitting the testing for both alcohol and drugs of drivers of motor vehicles suspected to be operating in violation of § 55-10-401.” See Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-419(c)(2).

On June 9, 2010, Governor Bredesen signed a new law which not only increases the fee collected from defendants who submit to blood, breath, or urine tests from $100.00 to $250.00, but also re-designates how these funds are to be distributed.  This new law is  is no longer specific to DUI investigations, but allows a much broader use of the funds “to purchase equipment and supplies, pay for the education, training and scientific development of employees, and for any other purpose so as to allow the bureau to operate in a more efficient and expeditious manner.” 

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No Recovery for DUI Accident Injury

New Jersey has taken the collateral consequences of a drunk driving conviction to a new level.  Consider, for a moment, that you were legally stopped at a red light when you were rear-ended by a negligent driver.  Upon investigation, the officer determines that you are under the influence.  You are subsequently arrested and ultimately convicted.  Although you were injured in the accident, which was clearly not your fault, a New Jersey statute bars recovery, regardless of liability, for any loss suffered “in connection with” an accident where the claimant has been convicted of DUI. This statute, N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5(b), bars recovery not only of economic, but also non-economic loss sustained as a result of the accident.

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