New rules related to how police collect evidence in cases of suspected drunk driving are now in effect in Tennessee. That happened as of the first of this month. It's a development that all drivers should be aware of in order to avoid possible dire consequences.
Of particular note is that police now have more freedom to force a blood alcohol test with or without a warrant. Under previous rules, drivers could refuse to submit to a blood test, and thus provide potentially incriminating evidence against themselves, unless the police had a warrant duly signed by the courts.
The only exceptions to the requirement of a warrant were if the driver had a prior conviction for driving under the influence, had a child 16 or younger in the vehicle, or if a crash resulting in an injury or a death had occurred. Now, if any of those circumstances are in play, the suspected drunk driver can't refuse the blood test.
Authorities say that the new flexibility could result in as many as 3,000 more DUI convictions every year in Tennessee. And they say that will result in safer roads.
Many in the legal profession don't deny the positive intent behind the change. But they also warn that it puts a greater burden of responsibility on drivers to act to protect their rights if they are forced to submit to a blood test without a warrant.
From a legal perspective, it will be wise for individuals in such circumstances to contact an experienced attorney to assess the quality of the evidence the police have collected and whether it was collected legally. In some instances, it may be clear that police had no reason to make a stop, much less had cause to collect blood.
Source: TimesFreePress.com, "Tennessee to see more DUI convictions," Todd South, July 2, 2013