Landmark DUI fee case headed to TN Supreme Court

A landmark DUI fee case our attorneys have spent years litigating is heading to the Tennessee Supreme Court later this month. The case centers around a $250 “incentive” paid to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) for each successful DUI prosecution in Tennessee in which a blood or breath test was used. Our attorneys argued – and the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals agreed – that the fee arrangement provided an incentive for the TBI to produce BAC results that would lead to convictions.

Earlier this year, the state legislature recognized the unconstitutionality of this fee arrangement, and closed the legislative loophole that allowed such a fee scheme to exist in the first place. Now, instead of the BADT fees from DUI convictions going directly to the TBI, any funds earned will instead go to the state’s general fund. Estimates place the amount of these fees annually at over $3 million which now ends up in the state’s general fund instead of the private funds of the TBI.

Hopefully, this will remove any incentive toward conviction or even the appearance of impropriety with the TBI that existed under the former system. Forensic scientists who conduct BAC tests should be independent experts who reach their results on scientific processes that are not contingent on getting a certain result.

Some officers are much too aggressive when it comes to drunk driving arrests. Officers may pull over drivers without having reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity, or perform roadside tests without proper training. They also might not take the time to properly maintain and calibrate equipment like Breathalyzers. When any of this happens, skilled attorneys like those at our firm can fight to suppress evidence which could result in charges being lowered or even dismissed.

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