Tennessee is the latest state to incorporate "no refusal" protocols to catch drunk drivers. Learn more about it in the following article.
August 29, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Under a new law implemented this summer, Tennessee joins the growing number of states that allow law enforcement to implement "no refusal" protocols. "No refusal" refers to procedures that prevent drivers from avoiding chemical tests when suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).
Under current Tennessee law, drivers arrested for DUI may opt to take a blood test (instead of a breath test) at their own expense. However, the process of obtaining a blood sample takes a while. Medical staff must be summoned to perform the procedure, and a few hours may pass before the suspect's blood is actually tested. By this time, a drivers' blood alcohol concentration may be lower than when he or she was first arrested. In some cases, it is below the legal limit.
Some drivers may refuse to submit to testing altogether, even in the face of Tennessee's implied consent law, where their license can be suspended for such refusals. These tactics allow a suspect to avoid harsh penalties for aggravated DUI or any criminal charges altogether.
Under the "no refusal" strategy, judges are available on the scene to issue search warrants so that on-site nurses can immediately take blood samples and measure a driver's BAC. This way, suspected drivers would not be able to prevent police from obtaining DUI evidence. While a driver can refuse a test, a search warrant cannot be thwarted.
The law went into effect during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, and eight drivers (who initially refused to submit to blood tests) were issued search warrants so that their blood could be tested, according to TNReport.com article. Search warrants were issued to drivers in Davidson, Anderson and Maury counties.
While supporters of the new law praise its effectiveness, opponents believe that it raises some critical constitutional issues regarding proper searches. One concern was that DNA from blood samples would be added to criminal databases for potential use in future investigations. Tennessee law enforcement agencies commonly submit DNA samples to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national forensic database that allows federal and state crime laboratories to share information.
The Tennessee Department of Public Safety and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation recently issued public statements denying these concerns, saying that samples acquired through search warrants are only tested for blood alcohol content.
Nevertheless, civil liberties groups, most notably the ACLU, continue to voice their concerns about medical privacy and other undocumented uses of blood samples. If you have been charged with drunk driving based on a "no refusal" warrant, an experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you.
Article provided by Mitchell A. Byrd PLLC
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