Monday, December 16, 2013

Study: Alcohol consumption among designated drivers common

A new study indicates that a lot of designated drivers are simply the least impaired driver in the party. Very often, Designated does not mean sober. Read more at:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

12 years for Rutherford County Vehicular Homicide

In a case prosecuted by 16th District ADA Trevor Lynch, an Auburntown man has revieved a twelve year sentence for committing a vehicular homicide by intoxication. The plea included an admission by the driver that he had marijuana, methamphetamine, and amphetamine as a metabolite of the methamphetamine; lortab; valium; and xanax in his bloodstream. He crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic and killed a perfectly innocent man. Read the decision at:

A Tennessee Drunk Trucker in Pennsylvania

CHAMBERSBURG, Pennsylvania— The Associated Press reports:
Authorities in south-central Pennsylvania have filed charges against a tractor-trailer driver who fled the scene of an accident that closed Interstate 81 for hours.
Court documents indicate 41-year-old Ricky Lynn Hatfield of New Tazwell, Tennessee, faces counts including aggravated assault while driving under the influence.
Police say Hatfield was driving erratically Tuesday evening when he struck two disabled vehicles stopped on the shoulder near Exit 13 in Guilford Township. The cars' drivers were seriously injured.
Authorities say Hatfield fled the scene, but was later found in a gas station bathroom. He remained jailed in Franklin County on Wednesday. It's not clear if he has a lawyer.
The crash closed a stretch of southbound lanes on I-81 for two hours. Northbound lanes were closed for about eight hours.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Addressing the problem at the TBI lab

The result of a blood test in a case in Chattanooga was wrong and a person was wrongfully accused for a crime he did not committ. Once the DA's office learned of the issue, the case was immediately dismissed.
What happened? Apparently a toxicologist at TBI did not follow lab protocols and sent the result of someone else's blood as if it was the result of the accused. The blood alcohol level was reported as a .24, but was actually a .01.  The toxicologist has been fired and all the blood tests he conducted that had a positive result (2,800) will be re-tested by an independent lab. This error will cost the State thousands of dollars and result in many cases being delayed.
The Assistant Director of TBI sent a letter to our DA's explaining what happened:

The re-testing process will take at least several months, depending on how quickly bids from labs are recieved. The contract to do the testing must go through proper legal channels prior to anything else happening.
It is very disappointing that this occurred. I have spent time watching people at the lab work. They tend to do an outstanding job.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Family of Knoxville crash victim hopes justice is served

The pain and financial burdens heaped on victims of impaired drivers is so much greater than any penalty an offender recieves. This driver is presumed innocent in our court system, but the punishment for victims begins as soon as an impaired driver crashes into them. This story like so many others reflect the frustration of having a 6th offender on the road to committ this crime. Unfortanately, even felony DUI offenders get out and many never learn.

Family of Knoxville crash victim hopes justice is served

Departments of Transportation, Safety & Homeland Security Take Action to Help Reduce Traffic Fatalities in Tennessee

Thursday, October 17, 2013 | 11:59 am
NASHVILLE --- The commissioners of the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) today announced specific actions their agencies are taking to help curb the number of traffic fatalities in Tennessee. As of October 17, there have been 800 people killed on Tennessee roadways in 2013. That is the same number of fatalities this same time last year.

See the entire article at:

Are our slow processes for obtaining search warrants contributing to fatalities?

When an additional 2-3 hours is spent attempting to comply with McNeely, the officer is off the road. Officers on the road provide a great deal of deterrence. Officers in an office do not. The lack of a law and a rule of criminal procedure that would allow electronic search warrants may not only be inconvenient, but deadly.

Prior to McNeely, our State had a average of 2.2 traffic fatalities a day. Since, McNeely, that average has jumped to 2.8 per day. There are a lot of factors that contribute to fatality statistics, but this one is unique to 2013.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Damage from flying tire

It looks like a miracle that the driver and passenger weren't seriously injured or killed due the the impaired driving of another.
Read about it at:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

McAllister promoted!

A good friend of our Traffic Safety Program, Mike McAllister, has been promoted to Captain. That's the good news. The bad news is that he will no longer be over the C.I.R.T. units. We'll miss him and his support for our training of prosecutors. We wish him well. Read about the change at:

NASHVILLE--- Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott today formally recognized the promotion of Michael McAlister to Captain over the department’s Research, Planning and Development (RP&D) division. McAlister replaces Captain Darrell Miller, who retired in August after 28 years with the THP. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Parole Hearing for 22 year sentence after 3 years!

See the interview and read the story about Mary Loving, who would have married Bruce Holloway, if he had not been mowed down by an intoxicated driver. That driver, Brian Duffey, is now up for parole. He was sentenced to 22 years in 2010.
Mary seems to think that parole is part of plea negotiations, which it is not. We as prosecutors tend to be as frustrated as every victim when a person with a 22 year sentence gets parole consideration three years after a plea. Fortunately, our prosecutor, Linda Walls does a good job in the interview explaining the situation. Read and watch here:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Don't forget to Move Over!

Driver slams into Franklin police cruiser on traffic stop

Conference highlights the dangers of molly, the club drug blamed for the death of an Abingdon scholar - News

Conference highlights the dangers of molly, the club drug blamed for the death of an Abingdon scholar - News

Vehicular Homicide Sentence in Chattanooga

The Chattanoogan ran the following story after a 4 1/2 hour sentencing hearing:

Massey Must Serve 8-Year Sentence For Traffic Death Of Tracy O'Neal

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
John Westin Massey
John Westin Massey
A man whose car crossed the centerline on Middle Valley Road and killed the driver of another vehicle in August 2012 was led away Monday night to begin serving an eight-year prison sentence.
John Westin Massey, 30, earlier pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and DUI in the death of 46-year-old Tracy O'Neal. It was agreed at the time that the sentence would be eight years.
During a four and a half-hour hearing, Massey's attorney argued that he should serve 11 months and 29 days, then be on probation for the rest of the term.
DUI Prosecutor Kate Lavery urged that he serve the full sentence in the state prison.
Massey was taken into custody after Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman decided that he should serve the full sentence.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Impaired Drivers Kill More than themselves

More than a third of the people killed when an alcohol-impaired-driver crashes are not the impaired drivers.
In 2011, 9,878 people lost their lives because of drunk driving. These people make up one-third (31%) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities in the United States. The total number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes has fallen, but the proportion of those fatalities that are from drunk-driving crashes has remained the same for the past 10 years.
Our attitudes on impaired driving have changed but we still have room for improvement. Forty years ago in a roadside survey of drivers, almost 1 in 12 (8%) were driving drunk. The most recent data (2007) from the same survey shows that rate is down to 1 in 50 (2%), which is good progress. Those impaired drivers still claim the lives of nearly 10,000 people a year – and one-third are their passengers, occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists. Drunk drivers cost our economy nearly $60 billion a year (Economic Impact of Crashes 2000).
These are preventable crashes, easily within our control by making better decisions as drivers, passengers, and friends.
For more information and media material you can download, visit:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Former Memphis officer convicted

Alex Beard was fired from his job as a Memphis police officer after he killed two people from north Mississippi in a high speed crash. Police records show Beard was driving 94 miles per hour on a Memphis street in his squad car, without his sirens or lights in operation, seconds before striking another car. He will serve 6 months in jail as part of a 6 year sentence.

Vehicular Homicide guilty plea in Houston County

The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle repots that:

Sherry Lynch, 33, of 25 East Tree St., Tennessee Ridge, entered guilty pleas on Tuesday to a charge of vehicular homicide while the driver was intoxicated and to vehicular assault.
Around 11 p.m. on March 11, 2012, Lynch was driving a 2010 Ford Mustang that ran off Highway 13 North near Highway 46 and overturned three or four times, ejecting the passengers, Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Shawn Seay said at the time.
Alicia Brewer, 25, of Clarksville, was killed in the wreck, and Tonya Tyler, of Palmyra, was severely injured.

Lynch recieved an 8 year sentence. The Court will decide at a hearing in January whether she serves her sentence in prison, jail or on the street.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Drag Racer gets probation for vehicular homicide

A 28 year old Winfield man, George King, has pled guilty and recieved five years probation for killing a forty nine year old man as the result of a drag race. The five years of probation are to be of the unsupervised variety.
Read more at:

Drag Racing on a highway is always a recipe for diseaster.

Some people should not even try for probation!

Read in the Knoxville News Journal about a guy who killed one man and injured his wife, while driving like an idiot. He was put on probation for four years. He drove like an idiot again passing a truck in a no-passing zone. He was speeding along at 100 mph and nearly killed an oncoming officer.
 If the rule of probation is to stop driving like an idiot and it is too much of a rule to follow, just spend your time in prison.  Read it at:
Andrew Samuel Foust

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Merriman Roll Call video

This is a roll call video for law enforcement concerning the August 13 case of Tennessee v Merriman. The case resulted in the dismissal of a DUI due to a lost video and a lack of evidence. The video is 10 minutes long.

Monday, August 19, 2013

THP SGT Lowell Russell Forgives Trucker. Probation Granted.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Florida truck driver Eric D Lewis has recieved probation for reckless endangerment in a crash that nearly killed and changed the life of Sgt Lowell Russell. The story tells that Sgt Russell was a big reason for the award of probation. "I have no animosity or hard feelings toward Mr. Lewis and I do not believe that incarcerating him would accomplish anything," Russell wrote in a letter to Judge Steve Sword.
The trucker slammed into the patrol car after he had fallen asleep behind the wheel. To his credit the trucker joined with others to pull Sgt Russell from the burning car.
Read the full story at:

Lost Videos of Traffic Stops and tests

The Supreme Court of Tennessee has affirmed the suppression of evidence in a case with a lost video. The case, State v Merriman can be read at:

In its Opinion released today, the Supreme Court upheld the dismissal, concluding that the State had a duty to preserve the video recording and failed in that duty when the video recording was lost. Because of the obligation to preserve evidence that could possibly clear Ms. Merriman of wrongdoing or assist in her defense, the Court then looked at the other three factors outlined in
State v. Ferguson, 2 S.W.3d 912 (Tenn. 1999).
 It determined that the loss of the video recording resulted from simple negligence; the lost evidence had significance when considered in light of all the other evidence, and its loss prevented viewing the event as it had occurred; and the sufficiency of the other evidence was inconclusive. The Court determined that the loss of the evidence deprived Ms. Merriman of her right to a fair trial.

Note that the facts as stated by the Court were pretty sketchy! I do not know how the State would prove the case, if there was no video and the only facts available from testimony were those listed in the opinion. (Underline added for emphasis)

The facts noted in the opinion were:

"After Ms. Merriman exited the vehicle, Officer Hammond attempted to administer field sobriety tests to Ms. Merriman. Another officer, Sergeant Jones, arrived after the stop of Ms. Merriman’s vehicle and was present during her performance of the field sobriety tests. Ms. Merriman informed Officer Hammond that she had health problems but agreed to attempt the tests. Officer Hammond first conducted the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (“HGN”) test. A second, unspecified field sobriety test ended when Ms. Merriman indicated her knee was “going out.” Officer Hammond administered a final, unspecified test that he believed Ms. Merriman could attempt even with her health issues.
Officer Hammond placed Ms. Merriman under arrest and arranged for transportation of Ms. Merriman’s two minor children, who were passengers in her vehicle. While Officer Hammond was reading the implied consent form to Ms. Merriman, she advised him she had taken Valium and hydrocodone earlier in the day. Ms. Merriman signed the implied consent form acknowledging her refusal to submit to a blood test."

In almost all cases the sufficiency of the evidence without a video should be apparent. In those cases this decision should have no impact!
No conclusions about guilt or innocence could be reached in the Merriman case. We don't know what tests were given or what evidence came from the tests. From the description of the facts, there are no conclusions that would lead us to believe the driver had any indications of impairment from any field test. Perhaps there was more in the record that did not make it into the description of facts, but if these are the facts upon which the court relied, the need for the video is pretty obvious in this case.
This case emphasizes the need to have well written reports and testimony that is conclusive in any case in which a video disappears.
This does not mean the Court now places a higher emphasis on the video that testimony. However, if the testimony would not support proof of guilt, the video is going to be the evidence that is vital.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

1 in 6 Americans are binge drinkers!

A new study from the Center for Disease Control indicates that the cost to the nation for heavy and binge drinking is 80,000 deaths and 223.5 Billion Dollars per year.
Tennessee loses ove 4 billion dollars per year due to excessive drinking.
The cost to Tennessee government is about 1.6 billion.

From December 2011 to November 2012, an expert panel developed methods to allocate component costs from the 2006 national estimate to states for (1) total; (2) government; (3) binge drinking; and (4) underage drinking costs. Differences in average state wages were used to adjust productivity losses.

For prosecutors, this means that on average, statistically, 2 of your 12 jurors may be binge drinkers. Be aware of the numbers.

Read the CDC study and CDC recommendations published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine:

Monday, August 12, 2013

See the latest fatality report

So far this year, we have lost 571 people on our roadways. That is fewer than our losses this time last year. The Department of Safety keeps a daily fatality report on their website. It breaks down where, when, the type of vehicle and other data concerning our losses. Take a look at the daily fatality report at this link:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

DUI Voodoo? Read about this one.

DUI is a Choice

Last weekend in Nashville extra duty officers arrested 23 offenders and the DUI unit arrested another 22. That's 45 people who got caught after making the choice to endanger every other person on the roadways. Why? DUI is a crime of selfishness committed by persons who do not care about others. This selfish behavior shows contempt for others. It's time we think about others and give them every chance to travel home safely.
Every DUI offender who kills regrets his/her act after the fact. No DUI offender who kills has regretted the possibility enough to get a ride home. It's time to think. If you drink and drive, you choose to endanger others. DUI is a choice.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Brain drain: Alcohol makes you stupid!

As if we don't have enough proof of alcohol effecting the ability to think, we now have this guy in Knoxville. He thought in his drunken condition that it was a good idea to steal a bobcat front loader from a nursery company to cover up the fact he was naked. He, of course, is presumed innocent of all charges, which include felony theft, DUI and indecent exposure.

Motorcyclist Killed On Highway 58 - 08/04/2013 -

It was a tough weekend for motorcycles in Tennessee. In addition to this fatality in Hamilton County, another died on the Dragon while passing a slower bike and a third died in a head on crash in Monroe County.

Motorcyclist Killed On Highway 58 - 08/04/2013 -

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Family shocked by vehicular homicide sentence | Johnson City Press

A nine year sentence suspended after 90 days in jail has outraged many. After reading the story, read the comments below it. It seems the people commenting did not buy the "accidental consumption of meth" testified to by the defense. Read the full story at:

Family shocked by vehicular homicide sentence | Johnson City Press

Here is an excerpt:
A blood test on Billings after the crash showed he had a .06 blood alcohol level as well as a mixture of amphetamine, methamphetamine and two other medications. Investigators found numerous beer bottles in Billings’ truck as well as a full six-pack still “cold to the touch,” according to testimony.

DRE program helps to combat drug-impaired drivers

This is an excellent story describing the efforts of the 96 Tennessee officers trained as Drug Recognition Experts. It ran on Channel 6 WATE in Knoxville. This may be the first of it's kind for our State. Congratulations to all our DRE"s for their extremely hard work combatting drugged driving. See the story at:

DRE program helps to combat drug-impaired drivers

Here are some excerpts:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

20 year sentence in Williamson County

Congratulations to DUI Prosecutor, Carlin Hess, and the law enforcement team in Williamson County for the 20 year sentence for Aggravated Vehicular Homicide for Gregory Powers.

When Powers was arrested the following story was on Channel 2 news on November 21, 2012.


A Franklin man arrested over the summer for hitting a bar employee with his car has been charged with vehicular homicide following a fatal crash last week that claimed the life of a Virginia man.

The crash happened just before 5 p.m. last Wednesday on Franklin Road near South Berry's Chapel Road.

Thomas Schlapman was pronounced dead at Williamson Medical Center after Franklin police said Gregory Powers crossed the center line and struck the motorcycle Schlapman was driving, head-on.

Powers, charged with vehicular homicide and failure to maintain a lane, remains in the Williamson County jail on a $250,000 bond.

Investigators believe that Powers, 46, was impaired at the time of the crash and are awaiting the return of blood alcohol test results.

Charges may be added or amended, police said.

At the time of the crash, Powers was out on bond for a DUI and vehicular assault charge case filed in July.

According to police, Powers was told to leave The Pond because he was too impaired. As he left the parking lot, he struck an employee who tried to stop him with his car.

Train hits dumptruck on tracks

On many of my office days I ride the Music City Star commuter train. It is an excellent option to stay off the roadways, save gas, save parking fees and even save the enviroment. Today I drove my wife's Prius to work. Today was the day something happened involving the Star. Apparently a dump truck was on the tracks. The dump truck is now missing it's front end. None of the 200 commuters were injured. The truck driver was transported due to injuries.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Bob says: Drinking on the job — Don’t do it!

Bob Johnson puts out a blog concerning bar management. This week he has a column about the problem of bar managers, servers and others drinking on the job. It is pretty commonplace with horrific repurcusions. He tells the story of Charlie, a bar manager, who is now facing homicide charges for drunkenly blasting into a car with three persons on their way to Mass.
Take a look at the issue from the perspective of Bob. Go to his website and look at the article listed on the right of the page.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Alcohol and Drugs and a head on crash

In a story that seems to repeat itself too often, a Claiborne County man was killed and his passenger injured when a 29 year old driver, who is alleged to have been drinking and drugging crossed the centerline as he came through a curve and slammed head on into 54 year old Mark Nelson of Speedwell.
The impaired driver lived and charges are pending.
Read about it at:
Charges pending in Claiborne County fatal crash » Knoxville News Sentinel

Monday, July 15, 2013

Latest Sobriety checkpoint video from Rutherford County

In Rutherford County there is a concerted effort to videotape sobriety checkpoints with the intent to destroy the use of sobriety checkpoints as a public safety tool. The latest video from a driver, who apparently holds a CDL is at:

4th of July holiday enforcement

Tennessee was a little safer this year than last, due to enforcement efforts to detect impaired drivers.
Statistical data concerning the holiday enforcement period is available at:

There were 16 fatalities in 14 crashes this year. There were 21 fatalities last year.
Some counties participated in No Refusal programs. Twelve suspects refused testing. Seven search warrants were obtained in those incidents. In 5 instances search warrants were not available.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Breath Testing watch!

A company in Tokyo has produced a watch with a built in alcohol breath test. I don't know how you would keep it properly calibrated to comply with State v Sensing, but it demonstrates how the technology is fitting into smaller and smaller items.

Watch the video when you go to the site at:

Breathalyzer Watch Design with Time, Date, Alarm & Sobriety Game. Intoxicated

Lawyer, DUI Driver Tricks Exposed

An Oregon DUI defense attorney was finally convicted after his 6th DUI arrest. He'll be serving 15 days and be monitored for a while. The sentencing hearing revealed some of his tricks and his delight, when an officer could not testify after being severely wounded in a shooting. He says he is going to change now. Let's hope so. His actions do not reflect the attitude of a great majority of lawyers, who serve in the judicial system. If anyone admires this guy, they need to reflect on the meaning and purpose of serving in the judicial system!
Read about it at:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Senator Faulk is now Judge Faulk

Former Tennessee State Senator Mike Faulk has been named Judge for the 3rd Judicial District. Judge Faulk was a pleasure to work with and he always saw both the big picture and the minutia in the State Senate. It is good to see such a worthy person named to serve as a Judge. Congratulations to the Judicial Nominating Committee and the Governor for such a worthy appointment.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Faces of DUI: One weekend in Chattanooga

Here they are. The presumed innocent class of the June 22nd-23rd weekend in Hamilton County. Don't drink or drug and drive. You'll get your picture taken.

Trooper Lindsay released from hospital

You don't have to be a DRE to see these eyes depict a big problem. Fortunately, his victim will recover!

Updated with mug: THP trooper struck by hit-and-run big rig » Knoxville News Sentinel

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jackson Network Meeting

It was a pleasure speaking to about 100 law enforcement leaders in West Tennessee at the Network meeting. The various chiefs, and other ranking officers were a great audience learning more about McNeely, the reorganized DUI law and Ignition Interlock laws. I finally got to meet Sgt. Dan Owen, the arresting officer in State v Butler, the physical control case that arose in the Jackson Wal-Mart parking lot. I got to tell him how I teach cadets about physical control by having them act out the scenario. It was a highlight for me. Stan and Mary Flowers from MADD also spoke. They have given much  of their lives to the fight against impaired driving after an impaired driver took much of their lives away. Brenda Jones, the GHSO network coordinator does an extraordinary job putting these meetings together.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Smoking pot with a 7 month old child in car

I think some parenting classes may be in order for this 20 year old guy. If you are driving under the influence, smoking pot with a 7 month old in the car, there is a problem. Read about this arrest at:

McMinn County man allegedly eats pot during traffic stop - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

DUI Convictions in 2013

Through the end of March, there have been nearly the same number of convictions posted to Driver's Licenses this year as there were through June, 2012. There have been 18,526 posted in 2013, only 1100 short of the 12 months of 2012. If the trend continues the final 3 months of the fiscal year ending in June, there will be about 5,000 more convictions this year than last.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The 24/7 solution is working in Montana

Montana has embraced a 24/7 alcohol testing program for multiple DUI offenders. The offenders must either report to take a breath test twice a day or wear a transdermal alcohol devise.  Each breath test costs the offender $2. The transdermal devise is $8 per day, but does not involve reporting in. The devise is read every week to see if there were any alcohol consumption violations. It seems like this solution would be a good one especially for some of our rural counties.
Read more about the program at:
Officials, participants tout early success of 24/7 Sobriety Program | | Kalispell, Montana

Vehicular Homicide by intoxication in Anderson County

An Anderson County crash that ended with three people killed and three cars crushed and mangled in November has resulted in an indictment. Read about this pending case at:
Marlow man charged with vehicular homicide for two deaths after three-car crash

Traffic Stop Results in 300 lbs of marijuana

A routine DUI traffic stop resulted in the discovery of 335 pounds of marijuana in fifteen separate packages. Deputies from the Union County Sheriff's Department stopped Martin Urrutia Olmedo, 26, of Knoxville, and discovered the drugs. Olmedo, who is presumed innocent will now face several charges. Read about it at:
Union County traffic stop nets 300-plus pounds of pot » Knoxville News Sentinel

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

U.S. safety board proposes tougher drunk-driving threshold

The American Medical Association has been advocating a .05 BAC standard for a number of years. Today, the National Transportation Safety Board voted to recommend an .05 standard. Read about it at:

U.S. safety board proposes tougher drunk-driving threshold -

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tragedy in Warren County

One teen has been killed and others are hospitalized after a gruesom crash in Warren County. Please keep these young people in your thoughts and prayers. Read about it at:

Friday, May 3, 2013

May 1 in Nashville

10 persons were arrested for DUI on Wednesday May 1 in Nashville.

Three took breath alcohol tests with results of .15, .18 and .19.
Two more consented to blood tests. The results are pending.
Five refused tests and were charged with implied consent violations.
Four were multiple offenders.

The intoxicants used were:
Alcohol only: five;
Alcohol and pills combined: two;
Alcohol and cocaine: two
A mix of everything: one

Sleeping pills like ambien were present in two cases.

The average age of the offenders was 40. The youngest was 29 and the oldest was 55.
It is  good news to see that no one under the age of 28 was on the list. Maybe our young people are getting the message that DUI is a selfish and stupid crime.

Those arrested were: Ricky Brown 7/27/71, Moly Bain 10/29/70, Dominic Alston 5/4/84; Benjamin Williamson 1/6/77; Abrahman Abby 6/21/59; Homero Navarro 5/31/79; Linda Buchholz 7/29/58; Chuckie Stewardc 1/23/66; David Abernathy 6/4/81 and Humberto Nicacio-Pule 7/23/88.

Driver, found sitting in Cocke County school bus with engine running, pleads guilty to DUI

Here is a nightmare scenario for parents. Fortunately this school bus driver had no children on board at the time. It was only a matter of time.

Driver, found sitting in Cocke County school bus with engine running, pleads guilty to DUI

Nurse charged with DUI, assaulting police - WSMV Channel 4

When she mets the nursing board, she will probably claim her unethical statements were made due to alcohol consumption.
When she meets the Judge, she'll probably claim she was not intoxicated.
Such a quandary for someone committed to an ethical code that begins with, First, do no harm.

Nurse charged with DUI, assaulting police - WSMV Channel 4

Synthetic drug operation busted near daycare - WSMV Channel 4

Here is some good news. These evil people have been making a lot of money producing synthetic drugs that injure and kill. Fortunately, this bunch is now out of business. Read about it at:

Synthetic drug operation busted near daycare - WSMV Channel 4

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Trial Judge error corrected

The Court of Criminal Appeals has reversed the suppression of a stop that is a real head scratcher. The Trial Judge suppressed a traffic stop in a DUI case in which the intoxicated driver went in the wrong direction in an emergency lane of the highway. The Trial Judge decided the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the intoxicated driver. The Court of Criminal appeals has reversed and sent the case back for trial. Without the reversal would we have a new rule in Fayette County that you could drive the wrong way in an emergency lane of the highway? That sounds a little scary!
Read the case of State v Wagster from Fayette County at:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Traffic Fatalities down; Pedestrian Crash fatalities on rise

On this last day of April it is nice to be able to report that our traffic fatalities are down by about 19% compared to last year at this time. We have lost 254 persons on our roadways in 2013. An area of concern is pedestrian fatalities. We have lost 29 pedestrians as compared to 21 last year at this time. The county with the largest reduction is Obion. They have lost two people this year, but had already lost ten at this time last year. Persons we lost in April are listed below. May they rest in peace.

Earl Strange, 79, Lafollette, Tn
Richard Wiles, 46, Lewisburg;
Authur Bell, 76 Stantonville;
Julio Anleu, 63, New Castle, Pa;
Gracia Anleu, 95, New Castle, Pa;
Earl Swallos, 62, Old Fort;
Jayla Moffett, 20, Knoxville;
Grant Knighton, 48, Collierville;
Roy Johnson, 74, Fayetteville;
Mary Ann Patton, 54, Cherokee, Al;
Jimmy Bynum, 61, Huntingdon;
Sierra Sullivan, 21, Oak Ridge;
Daniel Dotson, 33, LaVergne;
Gabriel Dalton, 30, Seymour;
James Hartsock, 40, Bulls Gap;
Bradley Reeves, 47, Scotts Hill;
Homer Wright, 76, Clarksville;
Ronald Blakenship, 45, Westmoreland;
Daniel Caldwell, 32, Rock Island;
James West, 58, Wartburg;
Bobby Flarity, 21, Chattanooga;
Morgan Ramos, 23, Morristown;
Marion Sanders, 48, Cedar Grove;
William Rogers, 74, Hiwassee, Ga;
Judith Rogers, 73, Hiwassee, Ga;
Andrew Svgdik, 19, Cordova;
Kimberly Ricardson, 50, Linden;
Jacob Ownby, 21, Tellico Plains;
Eddie Marvin, 61, Maynardville;
Monday Schreiber, 35, White Bluff;
Christy Hiland, 22, Lafayette;
Roger Sutton, 50, Trenton;
Dreyson Stewart, 19, Powell;
Sandra Anderson, 40, Gruetli Lager;
Urain Meyers, 48, Memphis;
Dinah Springfield, 43, Memphis;
Richard Fields, 65, Memphis;
Doris Wilson, 50, Memphis;
Gregory Redd, 55, Memphis
Donald Bonds, 51, Memphis

Monday, April 22, 2013

DUI Reorganization

The new DUI law is now Public Chapter 154. Copy it at:

Be aware this will be amended as soon as the new Ignition Interlock law is signed by the Governor. It amends this.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ignition Interlock law passes

The new Ignition Interlock law has passed both Houses and has been sent to the Governor. The law is HB 353 with House Amendments 2 and 3.

Hit and Run jury convicts

In Knoxville a jury has convicted defendant, Curtis Harper, for three counts of vehicular homicide. Congratulations go to Knox County DUI prosecutor, Sarah Keith and her team. Please remember the victims, Nelzon A. Soto, 45, Chasity Elaine Thornell, 24, and her unborn daughter.
Read about the case in the Knoxville News Sentinel at:
Jury convicts Curtis Scott Harper in triple fatal hit-and-run » Knoxville News Sentinel

See photo at:

Curtis Scott Harper found guilty : Knoxville Photo Galleries : Knoxville News Sentinel: Local Knoxville, Tennessee News Delivered Throughout the Day.

See more from WBIR with an excellent comment from Sara Keith at:
 Curtis Harper was found guilty Wednesday of 11 counts of vehicular homicide, DUI, |

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

3 year sentence for reckless vehicular homicide in Dyer County

Timothy Hipps, 34, of Halls pled guilty to reckless vehicular homicide in Dyer County and received a three year sentence. Hipps in 2011 drove into an 18 wheeler and his 10 year old passenger was killed. The penalty for a Class C reckless vehicular homicide for a standard range offender is 3-6 years.

Read more in the State Gazette at:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New DUI Law Will begin July 1

The House unanimously passed the Reorganized new DUI law on April 1st!  All that is left is the Governor's signature. It will take effect July 1st. The law was proposed with the intent of reorganizing and clarifying our current law without making any significant changes. Items that were no longer relevant were removed, such a dates showing a provision would only effect convictions after 1994.
Other items were placed in sections, so that people who used the items can find them more easily. For instance, fees and disbursement of fees are all in the same section now. They are not scattered throughout the chapter.
For courtroom practitioners, all the relevant law is in the first 11 sections. After that the sections are most relevant to post judgment activities. Those include probation, DUI schools, Ignition Interlocks, Treatment, Disposition of Fines and the like.
As soon as the bills become a Public Chapter, they will be available on our website. In the meantime, they can be read at:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Williamson County DUI Court

The Tennessean ran a complimentary article about the DUI Treatment Court in Williamson County. Congratulations to Judge Andre and all involved in their efforts to shut the revolving door of DUI Recidivism.
Read about the Court at:
DUI Court aims to change offenders' lives | The Tennessean |

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Repeat Offenders who kill

In Texas the repeat drunk driver who kills is charged with felony murder and faces a sentence up to life imprisonment.
In Tennessee our felony murder statute is limited to certain types of felonies. Our felony murder law states:

"A killing of another committed in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate any first degree murder, act of terrorism, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child or aircraft piracy."

Read about the way the Texans deal with third offender felony DUI drivers at: 

Drunk driving can be murder - San Antonio Express-News

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

DUI Arrests Nashville March 25

There were four persons arrested on a cold Monday, March 25th. They were Joseph Porter, Luis Espitia, Camilla Choate and Claire Petty.

What did officers see?

One driver had crashed at an intersection and admitted to taking xanax and had marijuana and a marijuana odor in the car.
Another driver was asleep in the Post Office parking lot with the engine running. An officer had to tap the window with a flashlight to get the driver to awaken.
Another was asleep at the wheel with the engine running after running off a curb leading to an embankment.
One was stopped for swerving and driving onto a sidewalk.

Of the four one took the two breath tests and had readings of .124 and .119. Three refused testing and were charged with implied consent violations. One had six different drugs in a pocket.
Two pled guilty to the DUI at the Court appearance the next day.

Supreme Court Limits Community Care-taking

In State v Moats a three Justice majority has limited the use of community care-taking by law enforcement to consensual use. The 3-2 majority decision is available at:

The ramifications are that officers may not use their blue lights if they are checking out a situation in which a person may be in need of help or may be impaired.
Walking up to a stopped vehicle to see what is going on is not a problem. Turning on the blue lights and then walking up to see what is going on means that evidence of any crime discovered in the stopped vehicle will be suppressed!

Moats, an 8th DUI offender, was parked in an empty Bi-Lo parking lot at 2:00 a.m. There were no other vehicles in the lot and the business was closed.

An officer drove past, but noticed the pick up truck had it's lights on and the engine did not appear to be running. She drove on down the road, but circled back 5 minutes later to see the truck in the empty lot with it's lights on.

She pulled in behind the truck, turned on her blue lights and walked up to the truck to check it out. She admitted that she did not have reasonable suspicion that a crime had occurred or was ongoing. She was simply checking on any occupant, since the truck had it's lights on and engine off in an empty lot.

When she arrived at the truck, the driver window was down. She asked the driver if he was okay and he said he was. She saw a beer in the beverage container on the dash, smelled alcohol and discovered the driver was drunk. He would later have a .19 Blood Alcohol Test Result.

In a decision by Chief Justice Wade, the Court ruled that the officer seized Moats when she turned on the blue lights and community care-taking did not justify turning on the blue lights. The Court recognized the this decision like the previous Williams case in 2006 puts officers in a difficult position, but they did not think that the danger created by failing to use blue lights to illuminate a scene or even failing to check to see if someone was dead in the truck was as important as the continuation of our Tennessee Blue Light Special created by our Courts previously.

The dissent notes that we are one of only four States ever to limit community care-taking in this way.
The tone of the dissent written by Justice Clark is noticeably harsh. Read it at:

Chief Justice Wade was the Appellate Court Judge who was overturned by the Supreme Court in State v Williams in 2006. He took the opposite position on the issue then.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tennessee Crashes

In 2012 there were 201,381 Total Collisions in Tennessee with
70,141 injuries and
1,030 fatalities.
There were 151,733 Total Property Damage Crashes.

The Counties with the most fatalities were:

Shelby 84
Davidson 63
Knox 48
Hamilton 36
Sullivan 28
Rutherford 27
Montgomery 23
Blount 22
Bradley 22
Sumner 20

The counties with the largest increase in fatalities were:

Sullivan 13
Bradley 13
Franklin 10
Obion 9
Cocke 8

The counties with the largest decrease in fatalities with 7 each were:

Henry, Madison, Maury and Wilson

Monday, March 11, 2013

New Case Alert State v Wenzler

In State v Wenzler, a March 6th decision from the Court of Criminal Appeals, Judge Woodall has clarified that a prior judgment for DUI is admissible, even if it is silent as to whether the defendant had an attorney or waived his right to counsel in the prior case.
 In this case a Mississippi prior was used to enhance the DUI to a third offense. The prior was silent as to whether the defendant had counsel or waived counsel. Judge Woodall in a unanimous decision said, we follow Hickman and the valid conviction is a valid conviction and not prior case law that is in conflict with Hickman v. State, 153 S.W.3d 16 (Tenn. 2004).
In Hickman the Court stated that: “The judgment’s silence as to whether the petitioner was represented by counsel or waived the right to counsel does not defeat the presumption of regularity and render the judgment void. Judge Woodall concludes that State v Whaley and it’s progeny are no longer valid as they conflict with Hickman.
 The Court States: “In summary, we reject the State’s argument that since the Mississippi judgment did not require actual incarceration, rather than just a suspended jail sentence and probation, that the rule in McClintock would not apply. However, under the definition of a “facially invalid” or “facially void” judgment set forth in Hickman, we conclude that O’Brien, Whaley, and their progeny no longer offer relief to Defendant. Furthermore, the applicable case law does not require the State to affirmatively prove that Defendant had counsel or waived counsel in Defendant’s case. Accordingly, Defendant is not entitled to relief in this appeal.”
Read the case at:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Brooklyn, NY - New Legislation Would Assume Hit and Run Drivers Were DUI; Reward Offered in Glauber Case --

We know a lot of legislation is reactive as opposed to proactive. In New York, legislation has now been proposed that would have a significant impact on hit an run drivers. Those who would leave others to die after hitting them are particularly nasty, inhumane people. There is nothing as frustrating as not being able to find them or finding them after all the evidence of their intoxication has disappeared. This attempt to change that in New York might be the beginning of something to change that despicable method of avoiding responsibility for deadly actions. Read about it at:

Brooklyn, NY - New Legislation Would Assume Hit and Run Drivers Were DUI; Reward Offered in Glauber Case --

Escaping on a Power Wheel

Sometimes drunken reality is stranger than fiction. In the news from Memphis, a 27 year old Arkansas woman crashed her car, got out without wearing any pants and tried to escape on a power wheel. She was not successful and may have a hard time explaining herself in Court. Read about it on the WREG Channel 3 News site at:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

2013 Fatalities

In 2013 we had more fatalities in January than in 2012, but fewer in February. The Daily Traffic Report shows a decline of 10 fatalities, so far this year. In January, 84 people died. I reviewed each of their crash reports and discovered that 10% of fatalities involved alcohol, 10% involved the drugs and 61% died when the vehicle left it's lane or the roadway. In February, 51 people died on our roadways. Crash reports have not been posted yet for all, so data will be available at a later time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

This guy took leaving the scene to a new level. The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that he crashed into another car at an intersection. He drove away. Another person involved in the crash followed him, so he shot him. He turned a Class A misdemeanor into at least a class C felony. 
Read about his bad decision at:

CRIME REPORT: Memphis man accused of shooting 1 when motorist follows him after crash » The Commercial Appeal

Friday, February 22, 2013

Revoked and Suspended Drivers & CRASHES

Did you know?

 There are currently 778,701 drivers in crashes with a known license status in TITAN (launched 2008)

 Of the 778,701 drivers with known license status, 62,472 had a license status of revoked, suspended, canceled, denied, expired, disqualified, or no license. This comes to 8.02% of all drivers in crashes in Tennessee. That is a higher percentage than the number of drunk drivers involved in crashes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Meeks Sentenced To 27 Years In Marion County Crash That Killed 3 People - 02/19/2013 -

This horrific road rage case has been resolved with a 27 year sentence.

Meeks Sentenced To 27 Years In Marion County Crash That Killed 3 People - 02/19/2013 -

Clarksville Police to publicize DUI arrests

News Channel 5 is reporting that the Clarksville Police Department is going to begin publishing the names and mugshots of people charged with DUI.

"Over half of our fatalities has some sort of alcohol relationship. We can't just sit back and ignore that," said Officer Jim Knoll with the Clarksville Police Department. "So we've go to do something to get the word out."

The jail's online log will go out to the media daily, but it could also start showing up on the department's Facebook page.

Read about the effort at:

DUI 9th in the News

Anthony Paul McGowan has been driving under the influence since 1989. He has spent as much time in jail or prison as on the street, but he does not stop. Arrested after dropping a child off at school, he now has a 9th offense DUI pending and became the focus on a Channel 2 News story in Nashville. See the story at:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Headed to Cookeville to teach at another DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Test class with Steve Dillard. More DUI Detectors are coming!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Crash Reconstruction Pedestrian/Bicycle Class

Congratulations to the 13 officers who completed the Crash Reconstruction Pedestrian and Bicycle class today in Nashville. This was a 40 hour class specializing in examining crash scenes involving pedestrians and bicyclists. It was a pleasure to spend two hours discussing the hit and run driver scenario.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


In a decision released today, Feb 14th,  in the Court of Criminal Appeals, called  State v Glavin, Judge McMillan and Judge Smith have agreed that ALL non criminal implied consent violations MUST be heard in Sessions Court, unless there is a written motion filed by the Prosecutor to have the determination made in the Trial Court. Further, it is error to have a non criminal implied consent violation determined by a jury. Please share this information with your Sessions Court prosecutors. 

A written motion is not required by statute, but it apparently is required to satisfy  this decision.

Trooper Clower

Congratulations to  Trooper Thomas Clower for a Court of Criminal Appeals decision upholding his traffic stop on I-75 of a Defendant transporting marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine to sell at the University of Tennessee.

Read the case at:

DUI Detection and SFST class

Jim Camp and I had a great time working with 23 Law Enforcement Officers in the DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Test 40 hour class at the Franklin police department yesterday. Instructors Gino Fantoni and Brent Rose did a great job putting this together for the officers from 12 departments.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New bill hopes to strengthen TN DUI laws - WSMV Channel 4

Here is a story from WSMV concerning the efforts of MADD to pass an ignition interlock law that would require all first offenders with a .08 BAC or above to install an ignition interlock. The bill is HB 353.
It will eliminate Restricted Licenses, replacing them with ignition interlock requirements for persons with a .08 BAC or above. It will permit ignition interlock licenses for all DUI offenders, not just 1st offenders.
If a person is convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or is convicted with a .07, there is no ignition interlock, but there is also no restricted license.
Read the bill at:
Read the article at:
New bill hopes to strengthen TN DUI laws - WSMV Channel 4

February Fatal Crashes

Fatalities this month: 2/1/2013 – 2/12/2013

Ruby Dixon, 46, Bethel Springs;
Jackie White, 16, Lewisburg;
Timothy Martin, 20, Mount Juliet
Bryan Delk, 41, Columbia
Doris Gentry, 50, Cookeville
Jerry Rice, 70, Ten Mile
Gregory Collette, 39, Sweetwater
Zachary Reagan, 20, Knoxville
Eller Parton, 35, Dandridge
Ryan Marcum, 17, Harrogate
Brock Humphreys, 41, Greeneville

In three crashes resulting in a fatality, alcohol was present.
In three crashes, seat belts were not in use.
Weather caused two crashes that resulted in the loss of life.
The most common factor was a vehicle leaving it's lane and either going 
off the road or crashing into another vehicle.

May they rest in peace. Please, be careful on our roadways.