Wednesday, April 27, 2011

TV News anchor charged with DUI

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that a news anchor, who now works in Chattanooga, was arrested and charged with DUI in Knoxville after crashing his car. Fortunately no one was injured. As with all cases, he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
It is always sad to see a case in which someone who ought to know better is charged with this crime. Yet we see this kind of story all the time. This is a news anchor. We have seen stories like this that involve attorneys, teachers, Judges, doctors and even prosecutors. Does anyone doubt that intoxicants effect judgment? The bottom line is that everyone going out and consuming alcohol needs to make a plan for getting home while sober and then stick to it.

Bicyclist struck by alleged impaired driver

In Chattanooga 24 year old Timothy Rudolph was riding his bicycle on Dodds Avenue when he was reportedly struck by a 30 year old driver of a SUV, who left the scene and was found soon after the collision. Mr. Rudolf suffered life threatening injuries. Keep him in your thoughts and take some time to reflect on our obligations as drivers to care for others on the road.
The story from the CHATTANOOGAN follows:

DUI Conviction affirmed. Criminal DRL reversed.

In Sevier County a Defendant prior to trial pled guilty to driving on a revoked license. A jury found him guilty of DUI 3rd offense and a violation of the mandatory insurance (financial responsibility) law.
No proof was presented that he was driving on a revoked license due to a DUI conviction. Since he had already pled to the DUI, the reason for the revoked driving charge would have necessarily
informed the jury, the defendant had a prior DUI. That would have caused a reversal for the DUI.
So, prosecutors need to read this case and beware of the tactic of the pre-trial plea to DRL.
Read it at:

Intoxicant includes alcohol!

The Court of Criminal appeals in a newly released decision affirmed a conviction based on a DUI in which the intoxicant was alcohol. The defense argued the term intoxicant did not include alcohol. Read about it at:

Traffic stop affirmed 55-8-123

The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a Hamilton County case. Officer David Allen pulled over the defendant using 55-8-123, which requires that a driver remain in his/her lane of traffic.
We continually emphasize in training that when an officer sees a driver cross a double yellow line, he has probable cause to stop the vehicle for a violation of 55-8-123.
The Court discussed Binnette and discussed reasonable suspicion for DUI, but found that officer Allen had reasonable suspicion for crossing the lane line.
Read the case at:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

20 year old dies when seat belt was not used.

Tragically Kelton Holloway, 20, of Crossville died after crashing into a car from behind. His car rotated and flipped. Since, he was not wearing a seat belt, his family will miss him and suffer for years. Seat belts save lives, but they don't do any good if they are not used.
Please keep Kelton Holloway and his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.
The story from the Cookeville Herald Citizen:

Truth stranger than fiction?

A headline in the Clarksville paper today:

"Woman smashes gold car into 'We Buy Gold' store"

No story link. It was just an ironic accident and I hope everyone recovers their damges and gets on with wonderful lives.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Morristown Daily News Journal article saluted

Thanks to the people at the Daily News Journal for an outstanding article concerning motorcycle safety. As a prosecutor in Chattanooga, I represented the citizens in a case in which 4 people died when a car pulled directly in front of two motorcycles killing 2 drivers and 2 passengers. The car driver thought she had enough room to beat the bikes as she crossed two lanes to a driveway. She did not. The bikers and passengers had no time to react. The bikers and passengers left behind children, parents, siblings and many friends. They should still be alive today.
I salute the DNJ for their decision to write and report on the issue of motorcycle safety.
Drivers of cars often miscalculate the amount of time and room available for a bike to pass. Give the motorcycle plenty of time and space. Not only will this allow a biker live, it will allow the car driver to be free of a lifetime of nightmares and guilt as well as civil and possible criminal responsibility.
Read the article at:

Lincoln Memorial University fights DUI proactively

As prosecutors we love it when DUI's are prevented and people get home safely. In Harrogate, Tn, the good folks at Lincoln Memorial University did their part. They brought in a vehicle simulator that allowed students to learn what it was like to try to control a vehicle at different alcohol levels. Thanks L.M.U. and we hope you never have to grieve over a student lost in a DUI crash. Thank you Claiborne Progress newspaper for finding this worthy of coverage.
Read about the program at:

Morristown Police Department cracks down on pill pushers

In Morristown the abuse of prescription drugs has become such a problem that the M.P.D. conducted an 18 month undercover operation resulting in numerous arrests and indictments. The news reports 146 drug overdose deaths in the last decade far outnumber deaths from violent crime and car crashes and some of those car crashes may have included drug impairment. The article mentioned:

"Another woman arrested for DUI Thursday night, Patricia A. Cody, allegedly was holding nine oxycodone pills for which she had no prescription and marijuana, according to officer David Klein.

With a mixed drink in hand, Cody, 52, allegedly attempted to flee from Klein across a field off Merchants Greene Drive. She allegedly reported she had taken “several prescription medications.”"

Read about the Morristown arrests and operation at:

Local News,National News,Breaking News,Sports,Lifestyles,Business,Entertainment in Morristown Citizen Tribune,TN

All of the arrestees are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

12 year sentence for Vehicular Homicide

Frank Cooper,74, of Columbia, Tn man has been sentenced to 12 years for vehicular homicide by intoxication. He killed Mack Odemeal, 57 of Ethridge. Cooper attempted to pass three cars in a no passing construction zone when his blood alcohol level was .19
Cooper was on bond for his second DUI offense when he committed his particular homicide! Assistant District Attorney Larry Nickell represented the State.
Read about it at:

East Tn man shoots his commode

No DUI in this story! Take a moment though to read about the Carter County man, who was allegedly drunk and in a bad mood. If he had stopped with shooting his toilet, this would be hilarious, but he was also charged with shooting toward neighboring residences, which is just scary.

Tennessee defense lawyer charged with DUI on Easter

In Hamilton County a well known defense lawyer was helped out of a ditch by a county deputy. He was arrested for DUI and reportedly attempted to take a breath test six times before refusing a blood test. Like all persons charged with a crime, he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Read about it at:

Ambulance driver transporting patient charged with DUI

After taking a weekend away from DUI related materials that did not mention our newsletter, I returned to the office today and did a news search to discover this story. The driver is presumed innocent, unless proven guilty. If he is guilty, I hope he is not allowed a restricted license to drive an ambulance! Imagine learning that your loved one was transported by an impaired ambulance driver. Argh!
Read about it at:

Alert! 2C-E synthetic drug "Europa"

A drug called "Europa" scheduled as a controlled substance in several European nations has now reportedly been the cause of deaths in this country. The drug, 2C-E (2,5-dimethoxy-4- ethylphenethylamine), is a phenethylamine of the 2C family and a psychedelic.

The substance is unfortunately available for purchase on Internet web sites and often is marketed as "research chemicals" and labeled "not intended for human consumption."

The drug can cause vivid hallucinations and leave abusers with extreme aggressiveness. Beware during traffic stops that someone on this drug will not act in a rational way and may try to fight!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Drugged driving proposal referred to summer study

Our District Attorneys Legislative proposal for setting a zero limit for driving impaired with any illegal drugs in certain drug schedules was referred to a "Summer Study" by the House Judiciary subcommittee yesterday. To be fair, the concept was new to some of the members and they want to learn more about it before voting.
The idea was if a person was stopped and there was probable cause to arrest and the person had any level of heroin or cocaine or oxycontin or ecstacy in their blood AND did not have a prescription, they would have violated the DUI law in the same way as a person with a .08 Blood alcohol test. It would be a per se violation.
One defense attorney on the committee was adamantly opposed to it and we agreed to respectfully disagree. Others wanted to learn more about the concept. Hopefully, we can bring in some people this summer to educate them about the difficulties that arise in drugged driving cases and the cost to society from those cases.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Traffic stop leads to 1,750 painkillers

Trooper Kevin Hoppe stopped a speeding pick up truck and soon discovered painkillers worth over $35,000. The vehicle and pills were seized and the occupants arrested. They are, of course, presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise. In the meantime, thank Trooper Hoppe for keeping these pills out of circulation and away from addicts, abusers and drivers.
Read the Department of Safety press release at:

Vehicular Homicide 8 year sentence affirmed

The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed a vehicular homicide by intoxication conviction and an 8 year sentence from a Roane County case. The Defendant had pled guilty and left the sentencing to the Judge. He then appealed the decision of the Judge and lost.
In the case defendant Bryan Howard with a .10 BAC drove recklessly at a high rate of speed, left the roadway over-corrected and struck and killed Bradley Lively. Bill Reedy was the prosecutor in the case. Read it at:

DUI Conviction affirmed

Congratulations to DUI Prosecutor Anna Cash in Jackson. Her successful prosecution of DUI offender Phyllis A Polk has been affirmed. A link to the case is below.
The defendant was concerned about the possibility she would lose her commercial driver's license, which permitted her to drive a school bus, if she was arrested. Isn't it great to know that someone who acts like this gets to drive our children to school. Ugh!

9 years for Vehicular Homicide in Claiborne County

A 32 year old woman from New Tazwell has pled guilty to vehicular homicide in Claiborne County. She recieved a 9 year sentence.Since vehicular homicide does not qualify as a "violent crime" she will be eligible for parole after serving 30% of her sentence.
The 17 year old victim in the case, Andrew Harmon, was a volunteer firefighter and an inspiration to his classmates and community. On his firefighter's shield he had an inscription that stated, "WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH THE FIRE YOU SHALL NOT BE BURNED, NOR SHALL THE FLAMES SCORCH YOU FOR I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD."

You can read the Andrew Harmon obituary at:

You can read the story about the plea at:

Montana joins 24-7 Sobriety States

BILLINGS - The 24-7 sobriety program heads to the Governor's desk Tuesday. If signed into law, the measure would require stringent testing of repeat D.U.I offenders.

The program would require repeat offenders to undergo twice daily tests or wear an alcohol detecting bracelet at their own expense.

Read about the program, watch a news video and learn about the law at:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Press bashes CCA opinion

If it wasn't so ridiculous, it might make you laugh. The story on WSMV is something very frustrating. It seems some citizen in Nashville does not believe laws should apply to him, so he keeps on "firing" his lawyers after the Court appoints them. He went through four and finally the Court ordered him to represent himself. The charge: He was driving on a suspended license! The Court found him guilty and the Court of Criminal Appeals has reversed the case for a new trial in which he has a lawyer. The problem is he fires his lawyers! Can you say endless loop? Meanwhile WSMV points out that all of this nonsense costs hard working tazpayers money, so he can play his game. Read about it at:

IRONY IS: This week's calendar

April 20th is deemed by those wanting to legalise marijuana as National Pot Smoking Day. Officers should be aware that there is an increased likelihood of coming into contact with impaired drivers that may have smoked marijuana on April 20th.

April 21st is Power of Parents Day in which MADD, Nationwide Insurance and other sponsors encourage parents to speak to their children about the dangers of alcohol.

Given the proximity of the dates, maybe parents might want to include marijuana in the discussion!

Poll result

The results are in. About half of the 28 voters indicated that 80-90% of DUI's are resolved in Sessions Court.

3% said less than half were resolved in Sessions. Here are the results. Thanks for voting:

DUI NEWS is available

The latest issue (34) of the News is available at:

In addition to old standards like case law updates, the Wall of Shame and Vehicular Homicide Murderers Row, we continued the series on cross examination of defense experts and added a front page article about the demise of treatment furloughs.

Hope it is helpful to you in your continued battle to protect your communities.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Did you know? You can't refuse to refuse!

In State v Carroll, 2002 Tenn Crim App Lexis 674 the Court stated, "There is nothing in the record which establishes that the Appellant was unable to refuse the test. There was ample witness testimony that the Appellant was conscious and capable of understanding the events surrounding him after the accident. Our law is clear that the only time "the test shall not be given" is when the motorist "refuses to submit" to the test. There is simply no proof that the Appellant refused to submit to the testing. Thus, the trial court did not err by allowing the blood alcohol test results into evidence."

The refusing to refuse trick has reared it's ugly head nine years after the Carroll decision as advise from certain DUI defense "expert" attorneys. Apparently it is a new/old game as it is popping up in various locations around the State. Don't fall for this recycled ploy! If the driver refuses to refuse or consent, strap him down to the gurney and get the blood sample. The Court is with you!

Associated Press informs about K2, spice etc

There are naysayers who commonly respond to any posting about the dangers of these drugs. These naysaters want the opportunity to get high, while ignoring the dangers associated with these substances. The Associated Press has published an article that begins with:

"Synthetic substances that mimic marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs are making users across the nation seriously ill, causing seizures and hallucinations and even killing some people.The products are often packaged as incense or bath salts and can be obtained for as little as $10 at many head shops. As more people experiment with them, the results are becoming evident at hospitals: a sharp spike in the number of users who show up with problems ranging from labored breathing and rapid heartbeats to extreme paranoia and delusions. The symptoms can persist for days."

Read the complete, informative article at:

and know that banning these drugs will accomplish good things.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Today in the House Judiciary Sub Committee

There is a bill in the sub committee of the House Judiciary Committee today that would make a vehicular homicide by intoxication with a .08 or above an aggravated vehicular homicide if the driver also has any amount of methamphetamine in his/her system. The bill is sponsored by Rep Eric Watson and Sen. Mike Bell.


I have added a non-scientific poll to attempt to recieve your perception of what percentage of DUI cases are resolved in your General Sessions Court or City Court with General Sessions Jurisdiction. You do not have to go study your data to get this answer. I am trying to get a feel for what you believe the answer to be. This came about after I examined all of the implied consent refusal cases in Nashville from December. There were 113 DUI's with refusals. Of those, 11 were bound over or indicted, so far. 33 are still pending. As of this moment that means about 10% went to the Criminal Court. It could go as high as 35%, depending on the pending cases. I am curious if this is typical, high or low. Please fill this out as soon as possible as it may become part of a legislative discussion next week. Thank you!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Did you know?

Every 2 hours a pedestrian is killed in America. Every 10 minutes a pedestrian and a pedal-cyclist is injured in a traffic crash. Every 2 days a pedal-cyclist is killed in a traffic crash. 24% of pedestrian fatalities in 2009 occurrec in an intersection. 33% of all pedal-cyclist fatalities occurred in an intersection. Intersections are dangerous. Please use extra caution as a driver approaching an intersection.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rest in Peace Sgt. Tim Chapin

Sgt Chapin responded to an armed robbery call. He was greeted by a hail of bullets. He managed to stop the shooter with his car. Tim leaves behind a wife, twelve year old son and fifteen year old daughter. Tim was a Sergaent who led by example. He was a member of his church for 27 years. He was a polite professional, who lived his life as a public servant. He will be greatly missed.

The shooter was on parole from Colorado. He was an experienced armed robber, who had served about eight of his 20 year sentence. He robbed more than money this time around. He robbed from us an example of what public service is all about. Rest in peace Tim Chapin. Say thank you to an officer today. You never know if you will have another chance to express your gratitude for the safety they provide.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Supreme Court decision

In a 4-1 decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court has reversed the CCA and reinstated a disorderly conduct conviction related to a Tea Party rally in Greeneville. The pundits will most likely pick up on the free speech versus disorderly conduct issue. It is interesting and the Court found that a riled up, angry person using a racially deragatory term and acting like a jackass can be convicted. However, for those of us troubled by the decision in State v Binnette and subsequent cases that seemed to give more weight to a video recording that to credible testimony, this decision gives hope that sanity is returning to Tennessee in the weighing of videotape reviews. In this case the CCA decided that video recordings were in conflict with the testimony of various officers. The Supreme Court states that the credibility decision was properly made at the trial level and videotapes were not the be all and end all after all. Read the majority decision by Justice Wade at: The dissenting opinion by Justice Lee is available at:

New Implied Consent Decision

Judge Tipton of the Court of Criminal Appeals has remanded an implied consent violation for a new hearing. He did so because the implied consent determination was made by a jury. This is a clear instruction from this Judge. In his opinion, the civil implied consent determiniation is not a matter for a jury. In this case the Judge affirmed the jury decision as the 13th juror. That was enough for dissenting Judge Ogle, who would have affirmed the determination. However, she was in a 2-1 minority, so the Trial Court will now make the determination without a jury. The lesson for prosecutors is pretty simple. Request a determination by the Judge. These cases can and should be determined in the Sessions Court as soon as possible, but if any are flowing with the DUI, they have to be made by the Judge, not the jury according to Judge Tipton. Read the majority opinion at: Read the dissenting opinion at: