DUI Update


There have been two remarkable events in DUI law in recent days. In the first, legislators asked the State Attorney General for an opinion on the constitutionality of a proposed law to prohibit alcohol sales to individuals who have been convicted of DUI. The other involved a ruling by the Tennessee Court of Appeals. It declared that it is unconstitutional for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to receive $250.00 per DUI conviction based on TBI tests on blood or breath specimens used to get the conviction.

The proposed DUI legislation on alcohol sales would prohibit any establishment that sells alcohol to sell to a person who presents a driver's license that indicates a DUI conviction. It also would subject the seller to criminal misdemeanor charges for violating the law.

Legislators will from time to time ask the Attorney General for an opinion on legislation they are considering. The Attorney General was critical of this proposal. It was not sufficiently tailored to keep drunk drivers off the road because it could keep a person with no intention of driving from buying alcohol. There was no expiration date on the prohibition and no way to have the marker removed from the license. And it would impose an indignity on DUI offenders a court might find to be arbitrary or discriminatory.

The other DUI issue came up in the case of State of Tennessee v. Rosemary Decosimo. Ms. Decosimo filed a motion to dismiss her DUI case on the grounds that the law created a fee system for DUI tests where the TBI would receive money for tests that led to convictions (but no fee for tests that resulted in exonerations) was unconstitutional.

The Court of Appeals found the law to be unconstitutional. “…we cannot allow public confidence in the complete fairness and impartiality of our tribunals to be eroded and nothing which casts any doubt on the fairness of the proceedings should be tolerated.”

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