Is current Tennessee blood test law constitutional?

In Tennessee DUI investigations, apparently one strike means a suspect is out. But should a DUI suspect be out of his constitutional right simply because of his history?

A criminal defense lawyer in Tennessee is challenging a current DUI law in the state that he claims goes against the supreme law of this land. He argues that the requirement for authorities to take blood tests from certain drunk driving suspects violates the suspects’ right to privacy as granted by the U.S. Constitution.

Based on current Tennessee law, someone without a DUI conviction in his or her past has more rights than someone with a past conviction. If someone with a prior conviction is merely suspected of driving under the influence again, the officer is not just allowed but legally required to collect the suspect’s blood sample.

Blood tests are used either to support or fight against DUI allegations. Compared to breath tests, blood tests are more reliable. But they are also relatively invasive. No matter how helpful the blood evidence might be to a DUI case, authorities should not be allowed to take blood samples as they or their state sees fit.

The Constitution has more power than a state’s criminal laws, including laws regarding drunk driving investigations. Even if a state law might help officials identify more impaired drivers, increasing the rate of DWI arrests and convictions cannot be prioritized over adhering to the set of laws that makes the U.S. the honorable country that it is.

If there is a development in this important criminal law matter, we will post an update. With or without changes to the current law, a DUI defense attorney is crucial in the effort toward protecting a defendant’s rights against faulty or unethical practices.

Source: WRCB TV, “Attorney challenging TN law over blood samples in DUI stops,” Carley Gordon, March 13, 2014

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