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.

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.