Several new aspects in Tennessee’s DUI laws will make penalties for drunk driving, and repeated and excessive drunk driving harsher.
One new DUI law that has gone into effect will call for those DUI offenders who register a blood alcohol content higher than .15 percent to install and pay for an ignition interlock device if they want to drive at all.
Another DUI law will require state judges to determine if a DUI suspect is a danger to the community, and therefore be able to deny them bond. This caveat would typically impact those who are arrested for DUI more than once.
The Chattanooga Free Press reports that the new laws are part of a stronger package of drunk driving legislation which lawmakers hope will scare some DUI offenders out of breaking the law again. The trend towards stronger DUI law is certainly a national one, and this latest package only strengthens this trend.
Assistant District Attorney in Hamilton County Kate Lavery is one strong supporter of the new legislation. She said in statements that her hope is that the new laws will decrease the number of DUI offenses.
“We currently have people out on bond that commit vehicular homicide or other DUIs,” she said, referring to the bill that would make it easier to prevent DUI suspects deemed especially dangerous from getting out on bail.
“This will strike right at the heart of our issue,” she said of the new laws.
The ignition interlock devices, which force a driver to take a blood alcohol breath test before they can start a car, will cost offenders about $60 per month. This cost will be mandatory upon conviction.
Under the new legislation, such in-car breath testers will even be possible for first-time DUI offenders. Such a device could be the requirement for some in order to get their license back after a license suspension period or a restricted driving period.
If someone who is convicted of driving with a blood alcohol content over .08 while also having a passenger under the age of 18 will have to have an ignition interlock device installed, even if it is their first offense.
Ignition interlock devices will also be required for cases including an accident resulting in injury, property damage over $400, or if they refuse to take a breath or blood test following a DUI arrest. Again, the in-car breath test could be installed in these cases even if it is a first DUI offense.
Tennessee joins several other states in terms of the strictness of DUI penalties. Eleven other states require an ignition interlock device with a BAC over .15, and 13 state require it it for first-time DUI offenders, according to the Free Press. Other states require the device upon multiple drunk driving convictions.
Several celebrity songbirds appeared in the headlines recently for issues related to DUI arrests and DUI charges.
One is a Grammy winning songwriter, producer and actress best known for her soul-pop music, and the other is a one-time teen heartthrob slated to appear in a film about Liberace.
Singer and Grammy-winner Faith Evans pleaded no contest to DUI charges in a Los Angeles courtroom recently, following a DUI arrest back in August. The Grammy Award-winner was stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Marina del Rey on August 21 at around 10:40 p.m.
Evans was subsequently arrested for suspicion of misdemeanor drunk driving. As a part of the no contest plea, Evans will serve three years of probation, pay $300 in fines, agree not to drive with any alcohol in her system and undergo a 3-month alcohol treatment program, according to the Baltimore Sun.
She pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor count of reckless driving.
Evans, well-known after she arrived on the pop music scene in the mid-90s, tweeted to her fans following the DUI arrest, telling them that “After completing a full day of wardrobe prep I was stopped at a random checkpoint. I’m fine and well, and thank you for your prayers, kind words and concerns.” She signed the tweet “- Fizzy.”
Evans and her husband were arrested for drug possession charges in 2004, for which she entered a drug abuse treatment program.
Teen idol David Cassidy also faced DUI trouble recently, when he was arrested for drunk driving in Florida, according to the LA Times.
Cassidy has a court date in mid January for charges that he failed a field sobriety test at around 6 in the evening. Police reportedly witnessed Cassidy weaving on the road and making an erratic lane change.
A Breathalyzer test came back having registered a .141 and a .139 blood alcohol content for the singer and actor.
Cassidy pleaded not-guilty to the charge. He admitted that he was tired, and that he had a glass of wine with lunch and took a hydrocodine pill for back pain.
According to police, there was a bottle of bourbon in the back seat that was half empty.
Cassidy faces a misdemeanor charge of DUI, failure to maintain a single lane and driving with an open container.
On Monday, July 7, a judge acquitted a man on DUI charges because police denied the suspect the right to call a DUI lawyer on his cell phone.
According to Ontario Court Justice Randall Lalande, Harvey Whidden’s constitutional rights were violated when he was pulled over on June 13, 2008.
Whidden had been waved into a vehicle safety inspection lane operated by the police because his windshield had a crack in it.
When Whidden pulled over, police noticed empty beer bottles in the bed of his pickup truck. Police also noticed he smelled like alcohol, and his speech was slowed.
The police asked Whidden to take a breath test, but the officer didn’t have a breathalyzer with him. While they waited for a breathalyzer to be brought from the station, the police officer didn’t allow Whidden to use his cell phone to call a DUI attorney.
The judge ruled that since the officer knew Whidden had a cell phone, he should have allowed him to use it to call an attorney.
According to the judge, the police waited about three hours when Whidden was at the police station and formally issued a demand for a breathalyzer before allowing him to call a lawyer.
Source: The Sadbury Star
Gleen Neely, a DUI lawyer in Ogden, Utah, has an interesting perspective on field sobriety checkpoints.
Glen has more than 10 years experience practicing DUI law, and his current thoughts were spurred on by a user discussion on DUI checkpoints over at answerology.com.
You might have seen a few more checkpoints up as police forces around the country set up more than usual over the holidays. The effectiveness of these checkpoints in catching drunk drivers varies.
Recent holiday checkpoints produced hundreds of arrests in some counties, and almost none in others. Either way, they affect all motorists and you should know your DUI rights and what to expect if you encounter a sobriety checkpoint or field sobriety test.