The penalties in Tennessee for being found guilty of driving while under the influence are very clear. When someone is convicted, the factors that go into determining the penalties include how many prior convictions someone has had, what their blood alcohol level was at the time, and whether there were any injuries or deaths that resulted. In attempting to secure a conviction, it is up to law enforcement to find clear-cut evidence of guilt just as it is up to criminal defense professionals to question or disprove the evidence. A 44-year-old Tennessee man is now dealing with these issues as police and legal counsel attempt to sort out multiple alleged drunk driving incidents believed to have been caused by the same person.
A 61-year-old well-known local businessman lost his life late last month in what law enforcement believes was the result of someone driving while intoxicated. Two men were hanging campaign signs on a bridge when a driver allegedly struck one of them, knocking the man off of the bridge and into a ravine 20 feet below. The driver, who was reported to be driving a Yukon, left the scene of the incident.
The car eventually stopped on the shoulder of a highway ramp. A passing motorist stopped, believed something was wrong and took the man's car keys. Police responded and saw the man exhibiting behaviors they believe to be consistent with intoxication. He was arrested and transported to the local jail. Law enforcement subsequently discovered that the man was also believed to have stopped at a local liquor store prior to the hit-and-run accident and drove into the exterior wall of the building. They also suspected that he was involved in another hit-and-run accident four days prior. It was unknown whether he had any prior convictions for drunk driving before these incidents.
If and when these cases go to court, their outcome will most likely to revolve around what evidence law enforcement can prove. Because of the way Tennessee law is structured, convictions on the charges can carry higher penalties if multiple incidents of driving while intoxicated can be proven. Whether it is one’s first or fifth arrest for suspicion of drunk driving, most accused individuals benefit from working with a criminal defense lawyer.
Source: Times News, "Update: Suspect in hit-and-run death of Kingsport businessman charged with DUI days prior," Rain Smith, June 24, 2014
Johnson City Press, “KPD looking for witnesses to alleged collision that left former state rep. dead,” June 27, 2014