Thursday, May 31, 2012

Look Twice for Motorcyclists!

Judge Elisabeth Earle Discusses why she runs a DWI Treatment Court

National Association of Drug Court Professionals

It was good to visit yesterday with the nearly 4,000 peopleat the Opryland Hotel in Nashville for the annual meeting of the National Drug Court Professionals. I learned a lot about new developments in DUI Sobriety Treatment Courts around the country. Kudos to Missouri for developing and implementing a great plan that has permitted them to add 51 DUI Treatment Courts and to train  356 people who serve as members of the Court teams in that State. There are now 598 DUI Treatment courts in the United States with many more coming. The Courts are well funded with a great plan.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Congratulations THP Cadet Class 512

On Friday the Separtment of Safety celebrated the accomplishments of 44 cadets, who have graduated to become members of our Highway Patrol. Jim Camp and I had the pleasure of instructing these troopers on several occassions. We wish them nothing but the best.
Last week Jim and I had the pleasure of teaching at the Nashville Metro Academy. Like the THP class, they had some exceptional cadets. There was a medic, several EMT's, several military veterans and even a former Kentucky prosecutor. They graduate June 6th.
These cadets make tremendous sacrifices. They have to remove themselves from their normal lives to inundate themselves in the training regimen. That takes a lot of time and dedication from themselves and their families at home. Thanks to their willingness to sacrifice, we will have some devoted and dedicated officers on our roads.

Friday, May 25, 2012

8 years for man who killed motocyclist in Dyer County

The Thursday edition of the Dyersburg State Gazette includes another tragic motorcycle article. Men on Harleys were returning from volunteering at the Special Olympics when Kim Cannon, 51, slammed into and took the life of Chuck Holland. Cannon, 51, crossed the centerline into Mr. Holland's lane of travel. Cannon gets an eight year sentence for vehicular homicide.
Mr. Holland was a respected member and past director of Mid-South Riders, a local motorcycle club known for their charitable contributions to the community. I hope for his sake that there are Harley's in heaven.....
Read more at:

Motorcycle fatality article

The article at this link is a story from the Johnson City Press about 2 motorcycle fatalities. In it,

Lt. Larry Williams of the Johnson City police states that "over 70 percent of all motorcycle crashes are caused by people making a left turn in front of the motorcycle. And invariably, the driver will always say, 'well I didn't see them."

Drivers have an obligation to watch for motorcycles just as they watch for cars and trucks. Failure to do so may result in charges or negligence or even recklessness. Watch out for motorcycles!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Coca Cola hit with $21 million jury verdice for cell phone driver crash

A jury in Texas has hit Coca Cola with a $21 million dollar judgement after a delivery driver on a cell phone crashed into a woman. The jury found that Coca Cola knew of the dangers of distracted driving and let their drivers use cell phones anyway. I suspect the friends and family of the injured woman may have switched to Pepsi or R.C. Cola.
Read this article from the National Law Review:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rest in Peace Officer Maples

So sorry to hear of the death of Cleveland, Tn officer Justin Maples. This young man has left us at the age of 34. He leaves a spouse, three children under the age of 5 and a community in which he was born and raised that he helped protect every day.

Bloodshot and Watery Eyes

The speaker in this short video is Dr. Karl Citek, Professor of Optometry. He explains why eyes can be bloodshot and watery due to the consumption of alcohol.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Motorcycle Awareness

Watch out for motorcycles. This can happen in an instant, ending lives and changing lives forever!

Motocylist killed. Vehicular Homicide Conviction Affirmed

The Court of Criminal Appeals has affirmed an 8 year sentence in State v Dowdy.  Mr.Dowdy turned directly in front of a motorcycle. The man on the bike, Joey Dewayne Holmes had no chance. Dowdy left the scene, but was quickly apprehended. Dowdy had cocaine in his system, but denied he ingested it throughout the process. Three months before he killed Joey Dewayne Holmes, Mr Dowdy had been placed on probation for selling cocaine. The appeal in the case centered around whether Dowdy would serve his sentence or be placed on probation again. He will serve the sentence for this crime committed June 30, 2008.
To read the case go to:

When you drive, please watch out for motorcycles!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Habitual Traffic Offended back to prison

Edwin Reese pled guilty to driving after being declared a habitual offender. He also pled to one failure to appear felony. The Court sentenced him to 1 1/2 years for each to be served consecutively. Reese had 18 prior misdemeanors and nine prior violations of probation!
Read the CCA opinion at:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

DUI Search Warrants are permitted again!

Public Chapter 892 was signed by Governor Haslem on March 9th. It went into effect immediately. Search warrants are now permitted in DUI cases.
Search Warrants were effectively banned by a 1998 Attorney General Opinion (Number 98-154), which was reaffirmed by another A.G. opinion (10-01), due to language in the Implied Consent law that said that if a person refused a test none would be given.
The new Public Chapter establishes that none will be given unless required by TCA 55-10-406 (f), a search warrant or a court order.
This law will open the door to Tennessee participating in NO REFUSAL WEEKENDS. This makes Tennessee the 33rd State to permit the use of search warrants in DUI cases.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Plea negotiations

Defense attorney: Give this guy a break. Look how well he walks in this video!
Prosecutor: I'm not worried about his walking. Look how he drives!

Governor signs the search warrant law...Effective NOW

The Governor has signed the search warrant law, which goes into effect immediately. Officers can now seek search warrants for blood if a driver arrested for DUI refuses a test.

Haslam signs into law bills on DUI, gateway sex - WSMV Channel 4

Friday, May 11, 2012

4 Decisions affirmed by the Court of Criminal Appeals

The CCA has been busy with three DUI affirmations in the last week. Here is a brief synopsis and a link to the cases:

State v Graham, The defendant was convicted of DUI 3rd offense and challenged the evidence that he was passed out in a McDonald's drive thru and that he was intoxicated as shown through his inability to divide his attention and adequately perform tasks during filed sobriety tests. The case occurred in Oakland, Tn. The arresting officer and witness for the State was Sgt. Kenneth Long. The prosecutor was Matt Hooper. The link to this case is at:

State v Frye, In this DUI 3rd offense case the defendant challenged the stop and the sufficiency of the evidence. The stop occurred after Sergeant Phillip Henderson of Tullahoma saw the defendant had no headlights on at 1:00 a.m. He turned his police car around and followed and watched the car swerve out of his lane twice for a few seconds each. The stop was affirmed. Officer Kevin Smith performed the Field tests with the defendant and observed indicators of intoxication. The defendant called a jail officer to testify that the jail intake form did not indicate intoxication. The jury convicted and that decision was affirmed. The prosecutor in the case was Marla Holloway. The link to the case is at:

State v Padgett, This one was a DUI 4th conviction in Knoxville. The defendant wanted the video recording of her arrest suppressed for lack of probable cause to arrest. She had been in a two vehicle crash she apparently caused and the cars had been moved to a fire station. She was cantankerous and in an ill humor. She refused to perform field sobriety tests. During the discussions in which she was "very belligerent" the officer's video camera recorded the audio of the conversation. Even though the driver refused to cooperate, the officer developed p.c. and placed her under arrest. In an interesting twist the defendant argued that her blood should have been drawn and that the case should be dismissed for failure to preserve her blood evidence. Blood was not drawn due to her conduct, so the court disagreed.
The prosecutor in the case was Kyle Hixson. The link is at:

State v Minchew, This DUI 1st offender had a BAC 0f .10, but battled to suppress the traffic stop. The stop by Trooper Charles Achinger was based in part due to a B.O.L.O. call by a citizen and the trooper's observations of the vehicle crossing and straddling lanes lines. The defendant argued his driving was of the "garden variety of minor imperfections" condoned by Justice Barker in the Binette decision. In his testimony the trooper pointed out that failing to maintain a lane is now a violation of the law (see TCA 55-8-115), which was not true when Binette was decided. In addition the Court found several driving errors that went beyond the "garden variety". The prosecutor in the case was Kelly Lawrence. The link to this one is at:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Doctor DUI

A Doctor in East Tennessee has been convicted by a jury of DUI. The Doctor had stated at the time of the arrest that he would not help the Tennessee State Trooper, if the trooper was ever injured. The Trooper told the doctor the night of the arrest that "everybody is treated the same" after the doctor told him he was a doctor.
That's a pretty good motto....

Read about this Doctor and the conviction at the link. The article fails to state that the doctor will now face a minimum of 48 hours in jail.

Jury returns guilty verdict in case of doctor accused of DUI |

In Bar not car Breath Testing

Here is an interesting article about a product in Minnesota that is in several bars. It is meant to permit drinkers to learn their BAC level before they decide to drive. The article includes a discussion of issues like the rising BAC as alcohol metabolizes and calibration of the devices, but may show promise for a preventive measure that can save lives.
Read about the IntoxBox at:
In Depth: In-bar, pre-car breath test - Minneapolis News and Weather KMSP FOX 9

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Riding to ARIDE

It's a day for another ARIDE class. That's Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, one of the best classes for officers who make traffic stops. It is very popular here. Every trooper went through it last year and hundreds of officers complete it every year. It is an honor to teach a small part of the class to help officers understand the necessity of preparation for court and understanding the law. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

CLE for Webinar

The CLE form for the New Laws webinar conducted on May 3rd is now posted on our website.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Lamp poll

The correct answer to the poll concerning the lamps of lights is all of the above. This information and that from the last poll concerning yaw marks came from our materials used in the our Vehicular Homicide classes for prosecutors. Last year the TNDAGC hosted that class in Gatlinburg. This year the hosts are the Kentucky Attorney Generals Office and will occur in Lexington the first week of June. 15 Prosecutors who are responsible for such cases will attend.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What if you had to text while driving to get a license?

A non profit group in Belgium did a study in which they mad teens text while driving on a safe course.
You have to see the results! There is a pretty funny commercial that is followed by the video by BUZZ60.

Watch it at:
Texting While Driving PSA Turns Heads in Belgium | Video Library | Press & Sun-Bulletin

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wonder if I can hide in the car wash

A driver of a big box Isuzu truck ran off the highway and hit a guardrail. Someone saw it happen and called it in. Officers found the truck a short time later. It was stuck in a car wash bay so tightly that the tires had to be deflated to pull it out after thousands of dollars of damage.
Would you believe the driver was charged with DUI? This might be an example of mental impairment.....

Read the whole story in the Kingsport Times News at:

Over-sized truck gets stuck in car wash, driver charged with DUI- Kingsport Times-News

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Shelby County DUI Conviction affirmed

In State v Higgins the Court of Criminal Appeals has confirmed a DUI conviction in a case tried by ADA Edie Sellars. Deputy Jason Brown was assisted by Deputy Danny Brown in the case. Higgins was stopped for speeding and according to the officers showed many of the classic signs of intoxication.
Read the case at:

Motorcycle Fatalies

The Tennessean has reported that fatalities for motorcycles have increased this Spring in Middle Tennessee. It seems  that the lack of a winter has caused more bikes to be on the road and more severe crashes have resulted. Read about it at: