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THP's Operation Daydreamer targets drugged drivers

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is cracking down on people who drive under the influence of illicit or prescription drugs. And, unlike alcohol-related DUI, drugged driving most often takes place during the daytime.

That's why the THP initiated Operation Daydreamer in Knoxville last year. The initiative went statewide in October. Since that time, the THP has arrested 71 people for DUI-drugs.

"Drugged driving, it is a big problem in Tennessee," said a spokesperson for the THP. "We want to combat and meet it head on," he added. "We want to stop it. We want to end it."

The spokesperson added that much of the drugged driving problem corresponds with the opioid epidemic. Many, if not all opioids can impair driving in large enough doses.

Why "Operation Daydreamer"?

"They tend to have that daydreamer type of look on their face," the spokesperson explained. "A dazed or confused look while they're driving."

The operation will involve extra patrols between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., when the greatest number of drug impaired drivers are on the road.

What penalties does Tennessee impose for drugged driving?

The offense of drug-impaired driving is treated the same as drunk driving and has the same penalties. However, you could also be charged with possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia if you have those with you when you are pulled over and do not have a valid prescription. Moreover, you could be charged with vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or child endangerment DUI if you were involved in an accident or had a child passenger in your car when you were arrested.

Multiple charges can make your case more complicated, and you should definitely get an experienced lawyer to handle all the aspects of your case.

The penalties for a first offense of drunk or drugged driving in Tennessee include:

  • Between 48 hours and 11 months, 29 days in jail
  • A fine of between $350 and $1,500
  • 1-year driver's license revocation
  • Possible alcohol and drug treatment
  • Possible ignition interlock installed on your car at your expense
  • Towing, bail, court costs, treatment fees, ignition interlock costs, high-risk insurance, restitution and license reinstatement fees

The penalties get more serious if this is not your first conviction or if anyone was injured or killed as a result of your impaired driving.

The opioid epidemic has been a scourge on Tennessee, and drugged driving is only a small part of the problem. If you've been arrested for an offense related to opioid addiction, you should tell your criminal defense attorney. There may be help available.

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