Batson Nolan wants to keep you informed of the latest DUI law changes and how they can affect you.
The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals recently rendered a decision with major implications for individuals charged with driving under the influence (“DUI”) in Tennessee. In State of Tennessee v. Rosemary L. DeCosimo , the Court of Appeals examined and found unconstitutional a Tennessee statute that required individuals convicted of DUI to pay a $250.00 fee to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”), if their conviction was the result of a blood or breath analysis provided by the TBI.
In its decision, the Court noted testimony and evidence that the TBI had collected in excess of $22 million in fees from convicted persons since
the statute’s enactment. In consideration of that evidence, as well as the ever-increasing use of blood and breath tests by law enforcement to obtain convictions in DUI cases, the Court found the State’s use of TBI blood and breath evidence violate criminal defendants’ rights to due process of law, because the TBI had a monetary incentive to obtain convictions. However, the State has noted they intend to seek further appeal of the Court of Appeals decision, so it is uncertain if and how long the constitutionality of the tests will remain in question.
IMPLICATIONS ARE STAGGERING
For however long they should last, the implications of the DeCosimo on individuals charged with DUI are staggering. Without question, blood and breath analyses, the vast majority of which are provided by the TBI, are the best tools in a prosecutor’s arsenal when it comes to obtaining DUI convictions, as the two provide a scientific basis for a defendant’s intoxication that is difficult to refute. Utilizing the DeCosimo decision, Tennessee defense attorneys are enjoying great success at suppressing the TBI test results from use against DUI defendants at trial, and have a much better foothold for negotiating and arguing for the dismissal of their clients’ DUI charges.
IF YOU’VE BEEN CHARGED WITH DUI
DUI is a serious criminal offense in Tennessee that carries far-reaching implications to those convicted. If you have been charged with DUI in Tennessee and, either voluntarily or involuntarily, provided blood and/or breath samples to law enforcement at the time of your arrest, the DeCosimo decision can provide you with a strong defense to avoid a DUI conviction.
DECISION MAY NOT LAST LONG
However, DeCosimo will not be the law of the land indefinitely; Tennessee prosecutors have already announced their intention to seek appeal of the decision and the State Legislature will likely seek to amend the law accordingly.