Stopping people from driving drunk is difficult goal to reach. Alcohol is a permitted substance for those over the legal drinking age in Tennessee, and while the law prohibits drivers from operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than 0.08, thousands of drivers do it and thousands are arrested every year.
In many places, we encounter what is sometimes referred to as "black box" technology. This type of technology has become more and more commonplace, and with it, the need to trust without really understanding.
Law enforcement in most states, including Tennessee, rely on breath testing equipment to assist in determining whether a driver they have pulled over for a DUI. The machines appear to be the perfect device to quickly determine blood alcohol content (BAC) of a driver, providing scientific evidence to present in court and obtain a conviction.
We have to have a lot of trust for law enforcement. From the nature of many arrests, where in some cases, the arresting officer may be the only witness, to relying on lab tests performed by state crime labs, the average citizen has to just accept that police, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) agents and crime lab technicians are all following the law and doing their job correctly.
You may have seen them on people's phones. You may have even thought about buying one yourself. But you wonder, do they really work? Could they tell you with enough accuracy whether you are too close to Tennessee's legal limit of 0.08 Blood Alcohol Content? Are they good enough to prevent you from being stopped for a DUI?
Now that Halloween has passed and the stores are full of Christmas displays, another sure sign of the impending holiday season are announcements by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, local law enforcement and the Governor's Highway Safety Office regarding stepped up enforcement during the season.
If you are arrested, you may be confused and overwhelmed. You may be fearful, not fully understanding everything that is going on in the process, and you may not know what to expect next. But even in that condition, you probably do expect that the system will function properly and that you will receive proper due process.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the people from unreasonable searches by police. The Amendment has provided ample number of cases that have litigated the issue of the reasonableness of a search.
People generally assume that prosecutors bring drunk driving charges based on some amount of evidence. Whether that evidence is valid or sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is a matter for a court to decide, and every defendant has a right to challenge the prosecution's evidence. After all, police and prosecutors do make mistakes, and no one should be penalized with fines or jail time based on false allegations.
While many are probably back to work after the Christmas holiday, there is still a big holiday this week. New Year's Eve celebrations will surely have brought more joy to Tennessee, with New Year's Day adding more fun to follow.