Posts Tagged Tennessee DUI Law

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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Tennessee Highway Patrol Using Tractor Trailer to Catch Distracted Drivers

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

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

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

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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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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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Revoked License Reporting Error

In accordance with a Tennessee state law that was passed in 2011, the Knox County government provided the Tennessee Department of Safety with a list of people who had failed to pay their litigation taxes and fines (often referred to as “court costs”) within one year after their criminal cases were resolved.  As a result, nearly 1,300 motorists who faced a criminal offense in Knox County in 2012, including traffic offenses, received a letter earlier this month informing them that their driver licenses would be revoked for failing to timely pay their court costs. Unfortunately, as the  Knox News Sentinel reported on January 25, 2013, officials recently discovered that many people should not have been included on the list submitted to the Department of Safety.  According to the Knox News Sentinel, over 500 people never owed court costs or had timely completed their obligations to the court.  Even though the Department of Safety has been notified of the error, the consequences of this mishap remain unclear.   For more information about this developing story, read Clerical Error May Cause Wrongful Revocation of Driver’s License by our firm’s managing partner Steve Oberman.

It is important to note that Driving on a Revoked License is a criminal offense, and an officer may immediately arrest anyone found driving with a revoked license.  Moreover, a person who drives while his or her license is revoked as the result of a DUI conviction will be made to serve at least 48 hours in jail if convicted of Driving on a Revoked License.  Please contact Steve and Sara for further assistance if you have a question about your driver’s license.  You may reach our attorneys 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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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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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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Defining “Under the Influence” and “Drunk Driving”

Tennessee law prohibits a motorist from driving “under the influence” as explained in Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-401.  What most people do not understand is that driving “drunk” is actually not the legal equivalent to being “under the influence.”  Steve Oberman explains this distinction and what it means to drive “under this influence” in this week’s podcast: Defining “Under the Influence.”

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A video version of this podcast may also be viewed by clicking here.

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

If you have any questions about the offense of Driving Under the Influence, feel free to visit the Oberman & Rice websites at www.tndui.com and www.duiknoxville.com.  You may also contact Steve or Sara by calling (865) 249-7200.

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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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You don’t have to be over the legal limit of .08% to be convicted of DUI

Most people erroneously believe that one can’t be convicted of DUI if one registers below .08% blood alcohol level.  Recently, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction of a man whose blood alcohol level was only .03%, well below the statutory .08% per se (legal) level.

In this case, the officer testified that the defendant swerved his vehicle three times over the yellow center lines of the road. Then the Defendant approached an intersection and turned left without stopping at the stop sign. After being stopped, the Defendant failed all field sobriety tests and was subsequently arrested.

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that a person does not have to have a blood alcohol content of .08% or any drugs in his or her system in order to be found guilty of DUI.

The Court considered all of the evidence, including the Defendant’s failure to perform field sobriety tests satisfactorily and the police officer’s observation of driving infractions by the Defendant, was sufficient to uphold the conviction.

This case emphasizes the need to be certain a qualified lawyer with sufficient DUI or DWI defense experience and expertise is hired to defend a Driving Under the Influence case even if the blood alcohol level is below the per se (legal) limit of .08%.

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