I am just reentering the legal world after spending the last three weeks at the Trial Lawyers College in Dubois , Wyoming being tutored by Gerry Spence . As I was reading the paper this morning , I read the the editorial about a tragic vehicular homicide that happened in Lebanon , Tennessee. The facts of the case are horrendous. The driver was convicted in April.Picked up a new DUI charge served with a probation violation , and out on bond when the deadly crash happened.
When tragedy happens , community uproar occurs. Editorials on the issue addressed the case. One of the columnists took direct aim that the DUI laws are mocked by criminal defense lawyers in this state. As a whole most attorneys that defend a citizens guaranteed constitutional rights do not mock our laws. A DUI charge is serious business. Tennessee has some of the harshest DUI laws on the books.
Currently , Tennessee has some of the following DUI laws ;
- Mandatory minimum jail time.
- Bond conditions on repeat offenders.
- A host of machines deployed by the courts such as ignition interlock devices , electronic monitoring , and SCRAM devices.
- No alternative plea agreements in order to expunge a citizen’s record if convicted.
One problem facing Tennesseans accused of drunk driving is that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of being presumed innocent does not apply to DUI cases. Further , the science used in the prosecution of DUI cases is suspect .Currently , there is no duplicate testing on breath or blood alcohol samples . It appears the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is going to adopt a new breath test machine for use . The machine had numerous problems in California that resulted in DUI cases being dismissed. Yet , it appears that it will be used here.
Everyone agrees drunk driving is a problem . However , do we suspend a citizen’s rights to a fair trial ? Hold them in jail on an excessive bail bond ? Deny them their rights ? The country is under siege from attacks on all fronts on a citizen’s constitutional rights . That’s the issue that bothers lawyers and the citizen accused.