Tennessee, Michigan to Crack Down on DUI Convictions

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm affirm that law enforcement agencies in Michigan and Tennessee are gearing up for a drunken driving crackdown. Recent national changes to DUI cases will mean more convictions in these states and across the nation every year.

Police across Michigan, from more than 150 in 26 counties, recently started putting extra officers on patrol as part of the state’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. The increased patrols are financed by the federal government and overseen by the Office of Highway Safety Planning.

The crackdown will be felt in Michigan all summer, however the week of July 4 (Monday – Sunday) and August 16 – September 2 will see the most patrolling officers. Nationwide, July and August are typically the months with the highest rates of drunk driving crashes, resulting in the largest numbers of serious injuries and deaths on roadways.

Recent changes in Tennessee state regulations direct how evidence is collected during cases of drunk driving. The new changes will be effective starting Monday, July 8, 2013, and will include new laws streamlining how police and attorneys may handle DUI cases. The new set of regulations was introduced in 2006 by then-Governor Phil Bredesen; the effort has continued for the past 7 years, up until current Govern Bill Haslam, who signed it into law.

Most of the new guidelines will affect the way the DUI arrest is made. Drivers stopped by police on suspicion of drunk driving previously were able to refuse breathalyzer, sobriety, and blood tests unless they injured or killed someone. Now, those being pulled over in the state of Tennessee are prohibited from refusing to give a blood sample if they kill or injure someone, are with a passenger under the age of 16, or have a previous DUI conviction.

The guidelines were broadened because most drivers who were refusing to give blood or breath tests on the side of the road had been previously convicted of a DUI and knew there was no way for them to beat the case if they gave a sample. In April 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that officers were able to collect blood samples from suspected drunk drivers if obtaining a warrant would compromise the evidence. This decision helped Tennessee rewrite many of their warrant laws, leading to the streamlined DUI guidelines.

Law enforcement agencies in Tennessee had previously been using the same warrant system that was put in place in 1871. It required, among other things, for an officer to get a warrant – in person – for a refused blood draw. Obtaining a warrant requires a magistrate to review the petition for the warrant in person. As most DUI arrests are made late at night and in the early hours of the morning, this law caused critical delays in getting the samples, which would be among the only evidence in a DUI case. Alcohol in the blood decreases as every minute passes, and in rural Tennessee, meeting with a magistrate could take hours.

Without a proper alcohol blood content (BAC) sample for judges and juries to see, prosecutions were much more difficult. District attorneys would have to rely on officer testimony and video footage from patrol cars as evidence, which are much less substantial than clear proof of impairment through BAC tests.

Many repeat offenders and habitual drunk drivers would be able to perform sobriety tests with ease, appearing on video to be sober when their BAC was actually twice the legal limit or higher. A Hamilton County Assistant District Attorney affirmed that, since the new laws, no repeat DUI offender has had a BAC lower than 0.17.

Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm remind the public to stay up-to-date on your state’e roadway and vehicular laws as they change and evolve. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another, you may be entitled to significant compensation for any medical bills, time missed from work, and pain and suffering.

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