Month: May 2015

Special Bond Conditions for Multiple Offense DUIs

Transdermal alcohol monitoring device at the beach.
Transdermal alcohol monitoring device at the beach.

People I meet with often ask how it is that they have to do “probation” after being charged with a second offense DUI when they haven’t yet been convicted. It’s a fair question. DUI defendants, like everyone else charged with a crime, are presumed innocent unless they are proven guilty in court. So why then is it that these second time offenders are meeting with probation officers?

In July of 2011 the legislature enacted a law that required courts to consider special bond conditions for anyone charged with DUI who has previously been convicted of DUI or related alcohol and drug offenses. In such a case the court must consider imposing (and usually will impose):

  • The use of an ignition interlock device
  • The use of transdermal monitoring devices or other alternative alcohol monitoring devices
  • The use of electronic monitoring with random alcohol or drug testing; or
  • Pretrial residency in an in-patient alcohol or drug rehabilitation center.

These bond conditions were designed to protect the public from continued driving under the influence. While they may accomplish that in some circumstances, the blanket use of these conditions can also discourage innocent defendants from going to trial. For instance, it can easily take 18 months to get a DUI case to trial. If a defendant is ordered to wear a transdermal monitoring device as a condition of bond, she will need to pay the $300 per month fee, or $5,400, on just the cost of bond.

Each person’s circumstances are different and courts have wide discretion in imposing bond conditions. Courts can change conditions initially imposed by the magistrate upon release if your lawyer can give the court a good reason to do so. If you are under strict bond conditions, talk to a lawyer who can assess whether those conditions might be lessened.

Tennessee Court Holds DUI Blood Draws Without a Warrant Illegal

The Court of Criminal Appeals recently reaffirmed an earlier decision, finding that when a DUI suspect refuses to give consent to have his blood tested, that the police must get a search warrant prior to a forced blood draw.  Search Warrant

Previously, a state law requiring “mandatory” blood draws, for suspects with a prior offense of who were involved in an accident with injury, had been interpreted to allow police to take the suspect’s blood over his objection, without a warrant.

The Tennessee Court cited the United State Supreme Court decision in Missouri v. McNeely, for the proposition that alcohol leaving the blood stream due to the passage of time is not enough, by itself, to equal “exigent circumstances.”  Without exigent circumstances, or some other established exception (like consent), police must get a search warrant in order to legally take a DUI suspect’s blood.

Read the full opinion here.

Congratulations to fellow Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers member Claiborne Ferguson, of Memphis, on prevailing in both the trial and appellate courts.