February 07, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Tennessee can compel blood sampling for DUI suspects
Article provided by Law Office of Edward E. DeWerff Visit us at http://www.dewerfflaw.com
Tennessee has implemented a new law governing blood sampling from people suspected of drunk driving. Under the previous implied consent law, drivers stopped by a law enforcement officer could refuse to give a blood sample for a blood alcohol contest test, but could lose their driver's licenses as a result of the refusal.
Tennessee's "No Refusal" law takes effect
The current law, known as a "no refusal" measure, provides that police can ask a judge for a warrant to compel the driver to submit to a blood test.
During an enforcement crackdown in five Tennessee counties over the July 4th weekend, law enforcement officers stepped up their patrols and used sobriety checkpoints to apprehend motorists suspected of driving drunk. While 40 of the drivers who were stopped agreed to a blood test, eight did not. A judge provided immediate warrants for blood samples from the eight who refused.
Use of blood samples is questioned
Concern over the use of the blood samples collected from persons suspected of DUI arose when a former prosecutor and current Safety Department Commissioner told reporters that the state of Tennessee keeps a database containing DNA records for people accused of drunk driving.
Tennessee law allows the state to collect and retain DNA test results from convicted felons and from people who have been accused of taking part in a violent felony, including carjacking and aggravated assault. Recent additions to the law allow the state to collect samples from people charged with five more crimes, including some manslaughter and homicide offenses. DUI is not on the list of offenses.
The DNA results in Tennessee's database are a part of a national system known as the Combined DNA Index System, accessible by law enforcement nationwide to help apprehend and charge criminal suspects.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, 14,586 DNA samples were collected from people who were arrested and accused of crimes, and 13,778 samples were taken from people who had been convicted.
The TBI insists that people who provided blood samples because of suspected DUI were not among those whose DNA is on file with the state. A spokesperson from the Department of Safety claims that DUI blood samples are used only for running blood alcohol tests.
Protecting the rights of those accused of DUI
Given the conflicting reports from state officials, it is difficult to know for certain whether DNA information has been collected without consent from persons suspected of drunk driving in Tennessee.
Because everyone is innocent until proven guilty, anyone who has been accused of a DUI offense needs vigorous representation by an experienced defense attorney. An attorney can see to it that an accused person's rights are protected.---
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