Tennessee to Conduct DUI Checkpoints this Independence Day Weekend

DUI-Checkpoint

Starting today, July 3, 2014, and continuing through July 6, 2014, the Tennessee Highway Patrol (“THP”) has announced a “No Refusal” weekend (click here to read THP’s Media Release).  Sobriety checkpoints have long been used on public roadways and have been deemed constitutional in Tennessee as long as certain procedures are followed.  Also, as you have previously read, if you are suspected of Driving Under the Influence, your blood can be taken without your permission to be used as evidence against you in court.

Of course, there are other types of checkpoints that sobriety checkpoints – click here for THP’s list of checkpoints this Independence Day weekend.  Please keep in mind that this is certainly not an exhaustive list, does not address any checkpoints that your local authorities may be setting up, and all law enforcement officers are sure you be on the look-out for those driving under the influence this weekend.

In short, please be careful while celebrating this weekend.  Also, remember that if you or a loved one is unfortunately charged with DUI or another crime, you are innocent until proven guilty and you should contact a skilled attorney in your area immediately to set up a consultation.

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The author of TNLawyerLee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If you or someone you know need an attorney, please click herefor Mr. Lee’s contact information and contact him today for a free consultation.  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website,www.TNLawyerLee.com or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to TNLawyerLee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

Copyright © 2014. Nicholas W. Lee, Attorney at Law. All rights reserved. This site’s content may not be used without the prior written consent of Nicholas Lee.

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Lasers – A New Way to Catch Drunk Drivers?

Image from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/08/device-laser-alcohol-cars_n_5453696.html "An illustration of how two lasers involved in the study reflected off of mirrors to reveal the presence of alcohol vapors in a test car."

Image from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/08/device-laser-alcohol-cars_n_5453696.html
“An illustration of how two lasers involved in the study reflected off of mirrors to reveal the presence of alcohol vapors in a test car.”

One of the greatest joys of writing this law blog is keeping up to date on current issues and developments in the law.  Today’s short post deals with an intriguing technological development that its developers hope will aid police in detecting individuals who are drinking and driving.

In Poland, scientists have developed a new “laser-based device that can detect alcohol vapor–like that exhaled by someone who’s been drinking–inside a car as it passes by,” reports Jacqueline Howard of The Huffington Post (to view the full article, click here).  While this device is not exactly close to being implemented in Tennessee, it is interesting to think for a second through some possibilities and ramifications of this device.

Of course, new technology aiding police in apprehending suspects is not a novel concept.  However, radar guns, breathalyzers, and any other system is susceptible to making mistakes.  The proposed laser device will have its own problems to work through, such as what if you are driving and your passenger is intoxicated (but you are not)? Just that simple hypothetical situation might draw into question the reasonableness of a stop based on such technology (if more than one person is present in the car).

To read more about this intriguing technological development, click here.

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The author of TNLawyerLee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If you or someone you know need an attorney, please click herefor Mr. Lee’s contact information and contact him today for a free consultation.  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website,www.TNLawyerLee.com or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to TNLawyerLee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

Copyright © 2014. Nicholas W. Lee, Attorney at Law. All rights reserved. This site’s content may not be used without the prior written consent of Nicholas Lee.

How are Forced Blood Draws Legally Justified?

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This last week a concerned citizen learned about “No Refusal” blood draw checkpoints and contacted me asking how can that be legal.  In short, the answer is that this is a sentiment shared by many among the criminal defense bar.

In Tennessee, “[a]ny person who drives a motor vehicle in this state is deemed to have given consent to a test or tests for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of that person’s blood, a test or tests for the purpose of determining the drug content of the person’s blood, or both tests.”  Tenn. Code Ann. 55-10-406(a)(1).  This is often referred to as “implied consent.”  Once upon a time, a citizen could refuse to allow blood to be removed from his or her own body to be used as evidence against him or herself, but not so much anymore.

In 2012, the implied consent law was modified to state that if a person refuses such a test, it is a violation of the implied consent law with possible punishments including (but not limited to) loss of your driver license and hefty fines.  But currently the situation is entirely possible where you could get pulled over, asked to submit to a blood test, you refuse the blood test, and yet one is taken anyways (a “forced blood draw”).

Courts have ruled that seizure of your very body (a.k.a. your blood) can be legal in many scenarios.  I imagine many readers may be screaming “but what about my right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures?!”   It is true that the Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that “under both the federal and state constitutions, a warrantless search or seizure is presumed unreasonable, and evidence discovered as a result thereof is subject to suppression unless the State demonstrates that the search or seizure was conducted pursuant to one of the narrowly defined exceptions to the warrant requirement,” State v. Binette, 33 S.W.3d 215, 218 (Tenn. 2000) (quoting State v. Yeargan, 958 S.W.2d 626, 629 (Tenn. 1997)).  

However, that is speaking of warrantless searches and seizures, a.k.a. warrantless blood draws.  Many policing agencies have set up a procedure where a warrant is obtained from an on-call magistrate authorizing the blood draw if a person refuses.  However, even if a policing agency does not first obtain a warrant, if the particular circumstances of a situation are determined to be “exigent,” a forced blood draw may be constitutional.  See State v. Hutchinson (Tenn. Crim. App. 2013) and Missouri v. McNeely (2012).

There you have it.  Whether this author agrees with the justification, that is how forced blood draws are allowed in Tennessee.  However, as readers may be able to tell even from this elementary run-down of the Tennessee Implied Consent law (and as readers may already know from other TNLawyerLee articles on DUIs, like this one or this one), these cases can be fraught with complexities – if you or someone you know should ever find yourself facing a charge for DUI or Violation of the Implied Consent Law, speak with a lawyer in your area immediately.

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The author of TNLawyerLee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If you or someone you know need an attorney, please click herefor Mr. Lee’s contact information and contact him today for a free consultation.  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website,www.TNLawyerLee.com or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to TNLawyerLee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

Copyright © 2014. Nicholas W. Lee, Attorney at Law. All rights reserved. This site’s content may not be used without the prior written consent of Nicholas Lee.

 

DUIs: You Don’t Have to Be Driving or Under the Influence to be Charged

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It should come as no shock that I have written about DUIs previously (click here to read “DUI, or Driving Under the Influence;” here to read “DUI does not always equal Drunk Driving;” and here to read “6 Ways People Don’t Realize They Can Get Into Trouble for DUIs“).  But one thing I bring up in conversation from time to time still shocks listeners: that you don’t have to be driving or under the influence to be charged with a DUI.

Tennessee Code Annotate § 55-10-201 defines who is a party to (and therefore can be charged with) a DUI:

Every person who commits, attempts to commit, conspires to commit, or aids and abets in the commission of any act declared in chapter 8 or parts 1-5 of this chapter to be a crime, whether individually or in connection with one (1) or more other persons, or as a principal, agent or accessory, is guilty of the offense, and every person who falsely, fraudulently, forcibly or willfully induces, causes, coerces, requires, permits or directs another to violate any provision of chapter 8 or parts 1-5 of this chapter is likewise guilty of the offense.

So what is one example of a way you could be charged with a DUI without being drunk or the driver?  What about if you were out with a friend?  You haven’t touched a drop of alcohol but your friend has.  What if you noticed that your friend appeared “tipsy” but he asked to drive and so you got into the passenger seat and let him?  DUI?

Think twice before you answer “no.”  This is pretty much what happened in the case of Williams v. State, 352 S.W.2d  230 (Tenn. 1961).  Click here to read the Court’s full opinion in Williams, but in that case the Tennessee Supreme Court held that the person who aided and abetted the person who actually was driving under the influence was also guilty of a DUI.  And, from personal experience, cases do arise where a person is charged with DUI when they were not driving and/or under the influence.

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The author of TNLawyerLee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If you or someone you know need an attorney, please click herefor Mr. Lee’s contact information and contact him today for a free consultation.  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website,www.TNLawyerLee.com or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to TNLawyerLee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

Copyright © 2014. Nicholas W. Lee, Attorney at Law. All rights reserved. This site’s content may not be used without the prior written consent of Nicholas Lee.

6 Ways People Don’t Realize They Can Get Into Trouble for DUIs

Occasionally when I meet someone new, it comes up that I am an attorney who likes to focus his practice on Criminal Defense.  People ask me many of the same questions and, quite often, the topic turns to DUIs.  I have learned that people are often shocked by some of the things they learn and so I am posting some of the DUI facts people have found to be shocking:

1) You don’t have to be drinking to be charged with a DUI

I have written previously about how one does not have to drink alcohol to be charged with a DUI.  Essentially any substance that impairs your central nervous system could make you guilty of a DUI.  A person can be guilty of a DUI while under the influence of a number of substances, including (but being in no way limited to) alcohol, illegal drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and prescription drugs (even if legally prescribed).  Click here to read more on this topic.

2) You don’t have be be in an automobile to be charged with a DUI

The law states that a person in “any automobile or other motor driven vehicle” (emphasis added) might be charged with a DUI.  What qualifies as a “motor driven vehicle?”  That is an interesting question indeed.  Golf-cart?  A rascal?  Bicycle with a motor attached?  One of those children’s toys that look like a vehicle, they sit in it, and they can maybe max out at 2 miles-per-hour?  These questions lead to very interesting (and sometimes quite lengthy) discussions among Criminal Defense attorneys.  Suffice it here to say that if it moves and has a motor, it might be safer to avoid it altogether if you are intoxicated.

3) You don’t even have to be driving to be charged with Driving Under the Influence

Allow me to give you a scenario, one that some of you might recognize: you have been out drinking with friends and, when the night comes to an end, you think to yourself, “I am too intoxicated to drive.”  You decide to sleep it off for a while in your car before driving home.  You might even applaud yourself for a decision you think is quite responsible.

After you get into your car, you put your keys back in your pocket and go to sleep.  A little bit later, a police officer comes along, knocks on your window, and starts asking you a series of questions.  The officer then asks you to step out of the vehicle and asks you to perform a series of Field Sobriety Tests.  Is this officer thinking about arresting you of DUI?  “Surely not, I wasn’t even driving!” you might think to yourself.

Unfortunately, you would be wrong – that police officer might be considering whether to charge you with a DUI.  According to Tennessee’s DUI law, you needn’t have been driving to be guilty of a DUI.  In Tennessee, you can also be guilty of a DUI if you were in “physical control” of the automobile or motor driven vehicle.  While it is another interesting question in some DUI cases of whether a person was in physical control of their vehicle, the Tennessee Supreme Court set the precedent when the Court upheld in 1993 the DUI conviction of an individual who fell asleep in his automobile with the keys. See State v. Lawrence, 849 S.W.2d 761 (Tenn. 1993) (click here to read the case opinion in State v. Lawrence).

4) In fact, you don’t even have to be on a public road to be charged with a DUI

DUIs can occur on “any of the public roads and highways of the state, or on any streets or alleys, or while on the premises of any shopping center, trailer park or any apartment house complex, or any other premises that is generally frequented by the public at large . . . .”  This means that if you live in an apartment complex and drive to get your mail while intoxicated, even then you might be chargeable with a DUI.  If you’re at a bar and go outside to move your car, you might be chargeable with a DUI.  I could list examples all day.

5) “DUI by Consent” * –

Some of you might have heard of something called a “DUI by Consent.”  Often when people use this label, they are referring to Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-201, which defines “Parties to a crime.”  Specifically for this article, it defines who is a party to the crime of DUI: “[e]very person who commits, attempts to commit, conspires to commit, or aids or abets in the commission of any [DUI] . . . is guilty of [DUI].”  In essence, if you facilitate a DUI in any way, it is conceivable that you could be charged with a DUI yourself.  Something to think about before getting in a car with a drunk friend behind the wheel.  See Williams v. State, 352 S.W.2d 230 (Tenn. 1961) (click here to read the case opinion in Williams v. State).

6) “DUI by Ownership” * –

Again, some of you might have heard of something called a “DUI by Ownership.”  This often refers to Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-202, making it a Class C misdemeanor for “the owner, or any other person, employing or otherwise directing the driver of any vehicle to require or knowingly to permit the operation of the vehicle upon a highway in any manner contrary to law.”  There are many instances where this might become an issue, but should certainly be cause for concern if you allow someone to drive your vehicle if you think they might be intoxicated.

However, it should be noted that someone who owns a vehicle might also be a party to a DUI under Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-201 (see sect. 5 immediately above).

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* “DUI by Consent” and “DUI by Ownership” are descriptive phrases, and not used as legal terms defined by law.

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CONCLUSION

These are just some of the interesting issues that can arise in a DUI case.  DUIs can be complex in nature and often require an attorney skilled in defending DUI cases.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI or other crime, contact attorney Nicholas W. Lee today for a free case consultation.

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*“Defending Tennessee” is a privately-ran legal blog and is not a public legal aid agency.

The author of Defending Tennessee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Click here for Mr. Lee’s contact information.  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website, www.TNLawyerLee.com or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to TNLawyerLee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

Copyright © 2013. Nicholas W. Lee, Attorney at Law. All rights reserved. This site’s content may not be used without the prior written consent of Nicholas Lee.

DUI, or Driving Under the Influence

One of the more notorious and better known crimes is DUI, or Driving Under the Influence.  Many people discuss DUIs on a daily basis, but many people have not actually read what many refer to as the Tennessee “DUI law.”  As I will often write about the finer-points of DUI law, I am providing you here with a copy of it:

55-10-401.  Driving under the influence of intoxicant, drug or drug producing stimulant prohibited — Alcohol concentration in blood or breath.

It is unlawful for any person to drive or to be in physical control of any automobile or other motor driven vehicle on any of the public roads and highways of the state, or on any streets or alleys, or while on the premises of any shopping center, trailer park or any apartment house complex, or any other premises that is generally frequented by the public at large, while:

(1) 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 oneself which the driver would otherwise possess; or

(2) The alcohol concentration in the person’s blood or breath is eight-hundredths of one percent (0.08%) or more.

DUIs are complicated in nature and can require a skilled attorney to analyze each case and present a successful defense.  If you or someone you know have been charged with DUI, do not hesitate – contact attorney Nicholas W. Lee for a free case-consultation today.

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The author of TNLawyerLee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If you or someone you know need an attorney, please click here for Mr. Lee’s contact information and contact him today for a free consultation.  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website, www.TNLawyerLee.com or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to TNLawyerLee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

Copyright © 2013. Nicholas W. Lee, Attorney at Law. All rights reserved. This site’s content may not be used without the prior written consent of Nicholas Lee.

DUI does not always equal Drunk Driving: Recognizing that other Substances can Impair your Ability to Drive

It is hopefully a safe presumption that most adults know that drinking alcoholic beverages can impair one’s ability to drive.  It can slow your reaction time and dull your decision-making capabilities to name just a couple of potential effects.  However, not everybody recognizes that a DUI does not always equal drunk driving: there are other substances which can impair one’s ability to drive and so also make one as guilty of Driving Under the Influence as someone who was driving drunk.

According to Tennessee Code Annotated sect. 55-10-401 (in layman’s terms, one of the leading Tennessee laws on DUI’s), not only can a person be guilty of DUI if driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) over 0.08, but also if the person operates a vehicle while “[u]nder 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 oneself which the driver would otherwise possess . . . .”

Accordingly, there is a long list of substances that, if consumed prior to driving, could justify a charge of DUI.  Some of those substances that might justify a charge of DUI are (and this is NOT an exhaustive list): alcohol (obviously) prescription medication AND over-the-counter medicine (many people do not realize that, even if it is legally prescribed or purchased, and even if they are legally taking it, they can still be convicted of DUI) , illegal drugs, items which should not be inhaled (“sniffed”) but which sometimes are such as aerosol cans and household cleaners, and even items such as bath salts (for those of you who are not aware, bath salts have come to be something of a problem over the past year or two; click here to be directed to a WebMD article on bath salts).

In summary, there are many substances which might cause one to DUI, not just alcohol.  If you or someone you know have been charged with DUI, please contact an attorney in your area to discuss your case.  If you would like a free consultation with Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., author of TNLawyerLee and attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee, please click here.

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The author of TNLawyerLee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If you or someone you know need an attorney, please click here for Mr. Lee’s contact information and contact him today for a free consultation.  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website, www.TNLawyerLee.com or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to TNLawyerLee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

Copyright © 2012. Nicholas W. Lee, Attorney at Law. All rights reserved. This site’s content may not be used without the prior written consent of Nicholas Lee.