Tennessee almost in the top ten for DUI enforcement

Lists are always popular on the internet. Some websites more or less traffic exclusively in lists, with a “Top 10” of this and “Five Best” of that urging you to click to view the list. Everyone wants to be in a top 10, but sometimes, when the lists are less trivial and strike a more serious note, inclusion in such lists may not be so attractive.

No state wants to headline a list containing these with the highest number of traffic crashes or drunk driving cases. But inclusion near the top of such lists may inspire changes in laws that cause the inclusion in other lists, such as one that ranked the DUI enforcement laws for all 50 states.

Tennessee was ranked 12th in terms of strictest for DUI laws. And every time there is a report of some element of Tennessee’s DUI laws being not as strict as some other state’s laws, it seems to place pressure on the legislature to consider increasing the penalties for a DUI in some way.

And that constant pressure to be the most severe or uncompromising can lead to pressure on law enforcement to increase their vigilance and enforcement activities. Of course, the best way, in many people’s minds to demonstrate this, is by making more traffic stops when troopers or police officers suspect a driver is intoxicated.

However, this pressure can result in troopers going too far and making questionable DUI stops or engaging in violations of Fourth Amendment protections in a misguided effort to create the numbers that demonstrate they are “doing something” about drunk driving in Tennessee.

No matter how well intentioned, working to reduce drunk driving in the state should not come at the cost of Constitutional violations.

Source:, “Virginia & Tennessee among toughest states on DUI,” Kristen Quon, June 17, 2015

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