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New DUI laws in Tennessee

Tennessee Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies have taken measures to ensure that drivers suspected of drunk driving will not be able to refuse chemical tests to determine their blood alcohol content. Tennessee authorities conducted a "no refusal" DUI enforcement campaign in several counties during Labor Day weekend, a holiday normally associated with increased automobile accidents.

During Labor Day weekend in 2012, 12 people were killed in 11 fatal car accidents; alcohol was determined to be a factor in two of the deaths. The special enforcement that was put in place for the Labor Day holiday in 2013 included sobriety checkpoints, bar and tavern checks and saturation patrols. The increased enforcement began the evening of Aug. 30 and ran until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 2.

Many states have criminal laws in place that hold that drivers who refuse to submit to a chemical test such as a blood draw will have their licenses suspended for a period of at least one year, whether or not these people are ultimately found to be guilty of DUI. In some states, officers have already had the ability to forcibly administer chemical tests. The recent enforcement campaign in Tennessee allows officers to forcibly take blood samples only after obtaining a search warrant.

Pedestrian or motorist victims of DUI accidents may seek recovery from DUI offenders in civil court. If a person suspected of a DUI is convicted in criminal court, an attorney dealing with motor vehicle accidents may be able to use evidence of that person's conviction in a civil proceeding. Now that officers may forcibly obtain BAC readings from DUI offenders, a plaintiff's attorney may be able to present that evidence in a civil proceeding as additional proof of the defendant's wrongdoing.

Source: WFLA, "Suspected drunk drivers will not be able to refuse an officers request for a blood sample", September 06, 2013

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