To combat drunk driving and the increased use of painkillers and other drugs while driving over the New Year's Day holiday, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and local law enforcement will be stepping up DUI and Drugged driving law enforcement on area roads. The "No Refusal" enforcement will be in effect today through New Year's day.
The most significant difference this year is that motorists who are impaired will not be able to refuse a blood test if an officer has probable cause to believe that the driver is impaired. Previously a motorist could refuse a blood or breath test. Under a law that went into effect earlier this year, a police officer who has probable cause may obtain a search warrant to secure the blood of a suspected impaired driver.
As the TN Department of Safety states, the “No Refusal” law, enacted this year by the General Assembly, allows law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers. Previously, a suspected impaired driver could refuse a blood alcohol content test and face charges of violating the implied consent law. This new law enables law enforcement to legally obtain blood samples by working with prosecutors and judges throughout the state during the warrant acquisition process.
This process will be in effect throughout Hamilton County. This link provides a list of where Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting DUI checkpoints
today through New Year's Day.
The legislation was passed in part because of the persistent danger of drunk driving and also because of the dramatically increased rates that impaired people driving are impaired by painkillers and other drugs. These drugs do not show up in a standard breath test but can be detected though blood analysis. A forced blood draw supported by probable cause is a significant step to combat the problem.
(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 266-0605.)