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Complexities mean Tennessee DUI case deserves individual handling

The nuances of the law are not for the faint of heart. Those who practice the law go to great lengths to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to be able to understand the text of the laws and then present arguments that allow courts and juries to consider new ways of interpreting what that text means.

In Tennessee and in other states, this means that each case needs to be approached individually, with a fresh eye. In cases dealing with the basic charge of drunk driving, or when driving under the influence charges reach felony status, such as may occur in felony DUI cases, a strategy needs to be developed and pursued aimed at achieving the best possible outcome. Where jury verdicts are involved, it can be a critical step.

This is born out in a recent case out of another state. Despite its having happened outside Tennessee proper, it could easily apply in our state, so it bears highlighting.

The case involves a road race that took place on a highway in August 2011. Police alleged that a 51-year-old man in a Mercedes and a 39-year-old man in a BMW engaged in the reckless driving and it led to a serious crash that left a 54-year-old nurse seriously injured and disabled. According to testimony from the trial, the woman was in a coma for several weeks, suffered brain damage and now lives with her only child in Missouri.

Prosecutors leveled a laundry list of felony charges against the two men. Both were accused of aggravated assault by vehicle, recklessly endangering an individual, and higher degree counts of aggravated assault. The 51-year-old Mercedes driver was also accused of felony DUI.

Jurors recently spent more than a day deliberating the case. In the end, they split on their verdicts. Both men were found guilty of the lesser-degree felony charges. But the panel split on the higher-degree counts, including the one dealing with DUI. What this means is that the possible sentences the defendants could receive could be less than they would have been. The lawyer for one of the defendants says the outcome was due to the complicated nature of the case.

Now, we can't say what would happen in Tennessee in a situation like this. But what this case shows is just how important it is to work with a professional who understands the nuances of the law.

Source: The York Dispatch, "Jury can't agree on most serious charges in Route 30 crash," Christina Kauffman, Jan. 11, 2013

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