Friday, December 23, 2016

Crashes with Drugs Present November 2016

In November 2016 there were 278 crashes on our roadways which involved the presence of drugs.
Nine resulted in fatalities. 149 resulted in a total of 204 injuries.
Drugs and Driving do not mix!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Johnthony Walker has Court Date Postponed until December 15, 2016


Johnthony Walker, appearing next to his attorney, Amanda B. Dunn, requested a continuation of his court date to December 15, 2016. All parties agreed to this date change. Walker's new date is set for December 15, 2016 in the General Sessions Court of Judge Lila Statom.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2016/11/29/hearing-delayed-driver-charged-fatal-chattanooga-school-bus-crash/94594048/

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Chattanooga

The horror of the bus crash in Chattanooga yesterday fills my heart with grief. I cannot begin to imagine how so many families will recover. I hope and pray that all our systems will respond appropriately so that justice and healing can eventually occur.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Distracted Driving

There is an excellent article in the New York Times concerning how distracted driving has expanded and is killing us on the roadways. Please read it at :

Now put down the devices and stay safe!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Public Safety Suffers Another Loss as Three New States Legalize Recreational Marijuana



The Washington Post (story link below) tallied three new states as amongst those states that have added their weight behind the collective effort for marijuana legalization. California, Nevada, and Massachusetts have now given their stamp of approval to recreational marijuana and in other disturbing news: Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota have given approval for medical Marijuana initiatives. Voters in Montana pushed-back the current restrictions on medical marijuana to round-out the evening as a victory for pot.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/08/medical-marijuana-sails-to-victory-in-florida/

Friday, November 4, 2016

Tennessee Adopts a Good-Faith Exception to the Exclusionary Rule

In the Corrin Kathleen Reynolds case, the Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. Although the Tennessee Supreme Court held that the warrantless blood draw of Ms. Reynolds violated her Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, section 7 of the Tennessee State Constitution right to be protected from unreasonable searches, the Court none-the-less adopted a good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule as set-forth in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Davis v. United States, 564 U.S. 229 (2011). The Tennessee Supreme Court further held that any evidence taken from a defendant and tested should not be suppressed if it was obtained under a reasonably, objectively good-faith reliance on precedent.

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CORRIN KATHLEEN REYNOLDS
No. E2013-02309-SC-R11-CD

.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

60 minutes tackles the marijuana legalization controversy

A recent story on 60 minutes discussed marijuana votes and the Colorado experience. Here are a few highlights:

1) The Governor says, WAIT for more data before considering joining the experiment;
2)More babies are being born with marijuana in their system, which is harmful to the developing brain. Their mothers indicate they did not know it was a problem for the baby;
3)Marijuana effects brain development up to about age 30;
4) The black market and organized crime are thriving;
5) Most Colorado counties have voted to ban marijuana production. The biggest producer is Pueblo County. There is a ballott measure in that county this year to ban production there.

Watch the story at:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-five-states-to-vote-on-recreational-pot/

Chattanooga Challenges

Read the story at:
http://newschannel9.com/news/local/chattanooga-police-face-major-challenges-enforcing-dui-laws

to see and understand how frustrating it is for law enforcement officers, who want to be able to do more to save lives on our roadways, but can't due to budgets. When I was the DUI Prosecutor in Chattanooga back in 2000, there was an active DUI unit in both the Chattanooga police department and the Hamilton County Sheriff's office. There were about four officers in each agency looking for impaired drivers during prime times on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
They were so effective and our DA's office was so effective, that impaired people started looking for other ways to get home from bars that did not involve driving.  Officers were having a hard time finding impaired drivers, because the word had spread in the bars that the likelihood of getting caught and convicted was very high.
Now, things have regressed. Drinkers will not change behavior if they don't fear getting caught.  People die when impaired drivers far outweigh the number of officers on the road.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Man Convicted of Vehicular Homicide in Knox County




 

On October 27, 2016, Judge Steve Sword sentenced Steven Dare Steelman, Jr. to thirty-two years, after a jury found him guilty in September of this year of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Assault, Reckless Endangerment, Driving under the Influence, Third Offense, Driving on a Revoked License, and Failure to Provide Evidence of Financial Responsibility. Steelman killed his ten year old son and severely injured his nephew in the November 23, 2014 crash in Knox County, Tennessee.

 

Assistant District Attorneys Joe Welker and Greg Eshbaugh showed proof of Steelman’s numerous felony convictions, allowing Judge Steve Sword to enhance Steelman’s sentence.

Great job Joe Welker and Greg Eshbaugh!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Austin Peay Students killed in crash


A Georgia man with a previous DUI has been charged in this tragic situation. Meanwhile, two families are left to greive.


http://fox17.com/news/local/austin-peay-university-freshman-among-two-killed-in-dui-crash-in-clarksville

Victim Training and MADD Night of Remembrance

We are honored to team with MADD to conduct a training concerning communications with victims on December 8-9 and attend the Night of Remembrance on the evening of the 8th.  If you are a prosecutor interested in the information and CLE credits, please contact Sherri.

Monday, October 17, 2016

DUI 3 Driver hits pedestrians. Kills one; Injures another

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Hendersonville man is facing his third DUI charge after he hit two pedestrians, killing one on Saturday.
Chris Solomon, 43, is expected to be charged with DUI, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, one count of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault.
According to police, he hit two pedestrians at 1:30 p.m. as they were walking along Donmond Drive near Air Float Drive.
Witnesses on the scene told News 2 the couple, who appeared to be in their 30s, had just bought chairs from a yard sale. They were reportedly going back to pick up the second set of chairs when they were hit.
“Sounded like he hit something substantial and I ran out to see what it was and found the people laying in the road and he was already gone,” a neighbor told News 2.
The man was taken to an emergency room in Hendersonville, and the woman went to the ER at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Police told News 2 the male victim passed away from his injuries late Saturday night.
According to police, Solomon did not stop after hitting the pedestrians. Authorities caught up to him inside his car a few blocks away.
Solomon was taken into custody and booked into the Sumner County Jail on a $300,000 bond.

Read the full article at:



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Byclcle and Pedestrian guide is now available

An informative guide listing laws concerning pedestrians and bicyclists is available from the Tennessee Highway Safety office at:

It lists eight laws pertaining to bicycles and six more pertaining to pedestrians. Download it at:


http://tntrafficsafety.org/sites/default/files/thso_bicyclepedestrianguide5.pdf

Friday, August 5, 2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

June Fatalities on our Roadways

During the month of June, 76 persons lost their lives on our roadways.

10 died or were killed in alcohol related crashes.

9 died in drug related crashes. Some of the crashes involved both alcohol and drugs.

Remember to drive defensively and take care during every drive.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Stay safe

Please drive defensively and leave plenty of room to brake during the heavy traffic on Memorial Day. Safe the memories for fallen soldiers, sailers and Marines, not traffic fatalities.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Think about this

In 1963 there were 1.5 million licensed drivers in Tennessee.
In 2014, there were 4.7 million.

In 1963 there were 941 traffic fatalities.
In 2014, there were 963.


We have 3 times as many drivers and about the same number of fatalities.

Sometimes, we get frustrated, but the reality is, we do pretty well.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Lane Departures and Fatal Crashes

Fatalities are up this year with 345 persons killed on our roadways this year as compared to 313 at this time last year. That's a 9% increase at this point. That's not good!

What's going on?  We can't blame the departure of Kendell Poole and Jim Camp forever, can we?

140 of the 345 fatal crashes included one particular factor. They included a driver failing to maintain a lane of travel. 

That's 40% of fatal crashes! That's a lot of death and destruction!

Why are so many people leaving their lanes? Perhaps we need to start looking at lane departure as a danger like DUI.

Defense attorneys often ask officers on the stand all the excuses they have ever heard for people leaving their lane. They aren't all under the influence. They are dangerous!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

De Moated

Moats has been overturned! Community caretaking is now recognized as an exception to the 4th Amendment warrant requirement.
If an officer stops to check on a driver slumped over the wheel, it is OK to turn on the blue lights to keep everyone safe!
Tennessee joins 48 States and the federal courts in recognizing this practice.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Fatalities on the Rise

295 persons have died on our roadways so far this year. Please be cautious and aware of the dangers on our roads.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sad news from the numbers

We had 57,395 traffic crashes in the first 3 months in Tennessee.
45, 587 were property damage crashes.
16,539 persons were injured.
214 people were killed.

Unfortunately one of those people used to play with my son as they grew up in Athens. He was 22.
He wore his seat belt. He was sober and drug free. He was on a 55 mph roadway. He was probably going too fast.
He left the road to the left and hit a tree.
A life can end in an instant. The loss lasts forever. Mason had a zest for life.

Goodbye Mason. You will be missed.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I was honored to speak to the West Tennessee M.A.D.D. Round-table Monday. It was impressive to see the number of victim advocates present and the students from Briarcrest H.S. in Memphis honoring their classmates.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

It's almost that time again

If you are a prosecutor in Tennessee and want to learn about the who, what, where and why of crashes, plan to attend our Crash Reconstruction for Prosecutors course June 20-24 at Lake Barkley in Kentucky. There we be a car crash. You will be taught what to look for in a reconstruction. Watch our previous crash below.


video

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Back to back DUI convictions

Joe Welker, ADA, in Knoxville had a busy couple of days. On Tuesday a jury convicted Jeremy Ledyard Nathan of DUI third offense. The driver had slammed into a parked vehicle after drinking vodka.
On Wednesday, another jury convicted Anthony Mulden, 60, of DUI first offense. He had a .17 blood alcohol level.
I'm sure Joe is not the only prosecutor in the State to convict two drivers in two days with two different jury trials, but it does not happen often. Congratulations Joe!

150 years for violent thug

I usually only write about traffic safety cases, but I saw a headline on the Channel 5 News site that caught my eye and wanted to share it.
Judge Cheryl Blackburn sentenced Perpetal Tutlam, 31, of Nashville to six consecutive twenty five year sentences for aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping and especially aggravated robbery.totaling 150 years. The victims were strangers to this thug. They were beaten, stabbed repeatedly, robbed  and forced to perform sexual acts on one another.
We are fortunate to have law enforcement officers and prosecutors, who take on this evil and remove a person who commits such horrendous acts from society.
Read more at:
http://www.newschannel5.com/news/local-news/man-sentenced-to-150-years-in-prison


Kingsport Conviction

The impaired driver who killed former Tennessee Legislator Michael Locke has been convicted of vehicular homicide by intoxication. Congratulations to ADA's Leslie Tiller and Kent Chitwood for their efforts to seek justice in this case. 
The defendant, James Hamm Jr. was found guilty by a jury of: 
Vehicular Homicide by Intoxication, Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death, Reckless Endangerment x 2, and DUI.
Read about it in the Kingsport Times News at:

http://www.timesnews.net/Local/2016/02/23/Driver-found-guilty-in-death-of-Kingsport-businessman.html?ci=stream&lp=10&p=

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Double 8th offenses brings 6 year sentence

In Crossville Patricia Ann Cromer, 45, has pled guilty to two separate DUI 8th offense convictions. She was arrested for the two DUI's within four months of one another. In the second incident she had a child passenger as well as two adults.
On one occasion she ran into a utility pole and tried to leave, but was stopped by witnesses. Crossville officer Andrew King then placed her under arrest.
On the second occasion Deputy Jonathon Stout spotted the intoxicated driver in a parking lot on Lantana Road in physical control.
Cromer was also convicted for being an Habitual Traffic Offender and for child endangerment. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway handled the case for the State.

Monday, February 1, 2016

January is done

In January we lost 45 persons on our roadways. Last year that number was 71.

There were 8 persons lost in impaired driving cases. Alcohol was involved in seven deaths. Drugs were involved in five deaths. In four instances both alcohol and drugs were involved.

No impaired fatal crashes occurred after January 15th.

Tennessee men denied bond after Georgia chase, crash kills 2

Tennessee men denied bond after Georgia chase, crash kills 2: A judge is refusing bond for two Tennessee men jailed in Georgia after allegedly fleeing police and crashing into another vehicle, killing two people.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hundreds of drug drivers snared by police roadside test campaign, police reveal

 News from Great Britain.....

A police campaign to target drug drivers caught more than 900 motorists who were under the influence of illegal drugs last month.
The Christmas campaign used new powers and roadside testing kits to launch a crackdown on drivers who take to the wheel after using cannabis, cocaine and other substances.
Officers used 1,888 drug screening devices during December with 931 showing positive results for drugs - or almost 50 per cent.
New legislation, which covers 17 legal and illegal drugs, and the roll-out of drug detection devices to all forces has made it easier to identify and prosecute drug drivers, the NPCC said.
 Read the full story at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/12124735/Hundreds-of-drug-drivers-snared-by-police-roadside-test-campaign-police-reveal.html

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Somebody is banned from a bar!

The Cleveland Daily Banner reports that Joel Echols was arrested for driving into a bar twice....literally driving into the bar. He faces a bunch of charges including DUI. The story includes this paragraph:

"The deputy’s reports said that Echols, after driving the truck into the bar, left the scene on foot, where he
was apprehended. Wagner’s report said Echols admitted to driving the truck into the building “for
entertainment,” and further investigation led to information that the truck belonged to Echols’ girlfriend."


Read the complete story at:

http://clevelandbanner.com/stories/man-drives-pickup-truckthrough-charleston-bar,26624

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fatalities

The daily traffic report indicates we have lost 26 people on our roads this year. Twenty Three of the deceased are listed in TITAN. Those we have lost are:

Bobby Stills, 77, Greeneville
Jack Henshaw, 61, Knoxville
Robert Arruda, 24, Etowah  Victim of hit and run
Antoniece Padgett, 22, Chattanooga
Antonio Marbury, 26, Chattanooga (passenger)
Robert Osgood, 67, Fayetteville
William Markum,  67, Dunlap
Kayla Bryanton, 20, Murfreesboro
Anthony Jenkins, 56, Westmoreland
Thomas Gerson, 62, Old Hickory
Lori Hollingsworth, 35, Lebanon
Michael Drake, 52, Madison  Pedestrian, victim of hit and run
Anthony Majares, 58, Smyrna
Brenda Cecil, 54,  Nashville
Mary Tarlecky, 92, Dickson
Andre Wright, 31, Clarksville
James Bates, 47, Nunnelly
Izhar, Morfin, 17, Bowling Green, Ky, passenger
Tiffany Woodlin, 27, Dyersburg  (driver)
Roytez McClellan, 15, Michigan City, Ms
Jaquayveon Evans, 13, Ashland, Ms (passenger)
Otis Mayfield, 27, Munford
Sara Chow, 19, Cordova
Jeffrey Thomas, 55, Southhaven, Ms

Eduardo Sosa, 35, Memphis

Please remember all. They are not statistics. They are family and friends, who will be sorely missed.

Friday, January 15, 2016

2015 Traffic Fatalities in Tennessee Third Lowest Since 1963


Wednesday, January 13, 2016 | 11:57am
Tennessee Highway Patrol Releases State-Wide Figures
NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security announced the number of traffic fatalities in 2015 is the third lowest annual figure in Tennessee since 1963. The 2015 traffic fatality numbers are reported by all Tennessee law enforcement agencies to the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP).
Preliminary figures indicate there were 965 vehicular deaths on Tennessee roadways in 2015. In 1963, there were 941 deaths. The 2015 fatality number includes 112 pedestrians and 10 pedal cyclists.
From 1964 to 2010, Tennessee averaged 1,234 deaths on roadways. Over the 46 year period, 1973 was the most tragic year, totaling 1,444 traffic deaths. From 2011 to 2015 under Governor Bill Haslam’s administration, the five year annual traffic fatality average has been 971, with those five years making up five of the six lowest years since 1963.
Nationwide preliminary figures indicate an increase of about 15 percent in 2015 compared to 2014.
“We are making great strides in reducing traffic fatalities with our data driven enforcement initiatives, public awareness efforts, and special programs,” Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. “Our top goal continues to be the reduction of traffic fatalities. We are committed to enforcing our traffic laws and saving lives.”
THP Colonel Tracy Trott said state troopers’ commitment to enforcing DUI, seat belt, and distracted driving traffic laws is producing results. State troopers arrested 7,805 individuals on suspicion of DUI in 2015 and cited 114,047 individuals for not wearing their seat belts. Subsequently, there was a 20.9 percent drop in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2015 in Tennessee and a 3 percent drop in the percent of fatalities involving unrestrained motorists compared to 2014.
“Our focus and commitment to traffic enforcement and citicens’ safety are making a difference in Tennessee,” Trott said. “We are making great progress in reducing fatal incidents on Tennessee roadways, but we know there is more work needing to be done, and we are even more committed to citizens’ safety than ever before. We encourage Tennesseans to make safe choices. Buckle up, don’t drive impaired and don’t text while driving because we care.”

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to serve, secure, and protect the people of Tennessee

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

First alcohol and drug related fatality of year kills driver

A search on the Tennessee Integrated Traffic Analysis Network (Titan) shows that we have had our first alcohol and drug related traffic fatality of the year on Monday, January 11th. The suspect driver, 31, died in the crash in Clarksville, when he ran into a 68 year old driver.

 

Nashville on National Title night

A lot of people were watching a very good football game Monday night. Alabama and Clemson were very well coached and hard working teams. They aspired to greatness and found themselves in an epic battle for a championship. They worked very hard to get to their place in life.

Meanwhile,  six people were being arrested for DUI in Nashville. They were on our roads endangering our lives. They were selfish people more interested in their pleasure than your safety.
 Three of the six arrested were driving after consuming drugs. The drugs involved were:

Marijuana and black tar Heroin,
Suboxone and
Alprazolam.

Three other people were drinking alcohol. One refused testing. Another had a .09 b.a.c. and the third a .22.
Two were in crashes.
Two were female.

The DUI population on Monday is consistent with what we have been seeing statistically over the last year:
50-60 of our lab tests stop after defining alcohol as the culprit.
The other cases show the most common drugs identified include alprazolam and marijuana.

Heroin and suboxone are on the rise as impairing drugs effecting driving.

Read more about these drugs in our latest edition of the DUI NEWS at:   http://dui.tndagc.org

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What's Wrong with Us in Nashville

I read today about a Mississippi driver, Kevin Dwayne Hammonds. He was sentenced to serve 18 of his 25 year sentence for a crash in which he INJURED another person.

A blood test after the crash in 2014 showed Kelly Dwayne Hammons, 45, had cocaine, methamphetamine, propoxyphene (Darvocet) and carisoprodol (Soma) in his system, District Attorney Joel Smith said Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Chris Schmidt sentenced Hammons on Monday in Harrison County Circuit Court. Hammons pleaded guilty to driving under the influence causing bodily injury.
Schmidt suspended seven years of Hammon's 25-year prison term, leaving 18 years to serve in prison.


Go back a couple of posts on this site and you will see that a driver in Nashville going the wrong way on the Interstate killed a person and got one year to serve.

The math says: 18 years to injure in Mississippi and 1 year to kill in Nashville.
Are lives more valuable in Mississippi than here?

Read about the Mississippi case at:



Monday, January 11, 2016

Soddy Daisy man indicted for vehicular homicide

In Chattanooga, Russell Stephens, 30 has been charged with Vehicular Homicide by Intoxication for the death of Brenda Boren, 68. The victim was in the back seat of a vehicle that was hit head on. Read more at:



Soddy Daisy man indicted for vehicular homicide: Stephens is facing 10 criminal charges

Friday, January 8, 2016

Woman to serve 1 year of 8-year sentence in deadly wrong-way crash

Channel 2 News in Nashville reports that Delois Beasley has been sentenced to 8 years for vehicular homicide by intoxication suspended after one year. Beasley had spent the evening drinking with her brother  at his home on Panorama Drive. She left and ended up driving under the influence going the wrong way on the Interstate 65. Twenty five people called 9-1-1 to report the wrong way driver before she slammed head on into Michael Campbell in January 2015. Mr. Campbell of Brownsville, Kentucky was 42 years old left behind a wife and three children.
Also injured in the crash was 32 year old Michael Anderson of Summer Shade, Kentucky. The two men had been to an Eric Church concert at Bridgestone Arena.
The encore sung by Church was "A Man Who was Gonna Die Young".
The final verses:

I always thought I'd be a heap of metal
And a cloud of smoke, foot stuck to the pedal
Sold for parts like a junkyard rusted-out Chevy
Fear I've had none,
What the hell made you wanna love
A man who was gonna die young?
Call it intuition, or call it crazy
Just thought by now I'd be pushing up daisies
But I'd gladly stick around if we're together
So baby when you bow your head tonight,
Could you tell the Lord I've changed my mind
And with you I'd like to live forever


Driving impaired ends dreams, ends relationships, ends lives.
No sentence would bring back Michael Campbell or heal Michael Anderson. It is terribly sad that these two friends suffered in Nashville due to the crime of this particular woman.
May Michael Campbell rest in peace and may his widow and orphaned children find peace.



Soddy Daisy man indicted for vehicular homicide

Soddy Daisy man indicted for vehicular homicide

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

30 year old Memphian arrested for passenger death

Ariel Munoz, 30, was arrested Monday for killing his passenger while driving under the influence.
Eduardo Sanchez Sosa was killed after Munoz ran into a guardrail on I 240. Munoz fled after the crash.

Madison Woman Arrested in Fatal Hit & Run Case

Metro officers Monday night arrested a Madison woman in connection with Friday’s hit & run collision on Nesbitt Lane that killed pedestrian Michael Billy Drake.
         Ateah M. Williams, 31, is charged with leaving the scene of a collision involving death (a felony), attempted aggravated child neglect (a felony) for admittedly driving medicated with her eight-year-old daughter in the vehicle, driving on a revoked license (a misdemeanor), failure to render aid (a misdemeanor), and failure to report the collision (a misdemeanor).  The investigation is continuing.  A vehicular homicide prosecution remains possible.
          Williams is accused of striking Drake, 52, with her Saturn Vue SUV as he walked in the grass alongside Nesbitt Lane at 5 p.m. Friday.  Williams called police Saturday morning to say that she believed she was the person being sought in the hit & run.  During an interview, Williams claimed to have blacked out while driving.  She admitted to taking medication that makes her drowsy.


Mugshot of Ateah M. Williams, 31

Girl riding in horse drawn buggy killed by impaired driver

 A thirteen year old girl was killed when an allegedly impaired driver ran into the back of a horse drawn buggy in Polk County.  The driver attempted to flee the scene, but was arrested and has been charged.

Read about this tragedy at:
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2015/dec/30/numerous-charges-against-driver-who-hit-horse-drawn-buggy/342577/