MADD is...mad about changes to Tennessee DUI law

Jul 13, 2017

Credit MADD Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  The Tennessee chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving says a new state law that went into effect July 1 puts the rights of drunk drivers above those of victims.

Lawmakers say they were forced to make the changes because of a Supreme Court ruling that made it illegal under most circumstances to charge DUI suspects who refuse a blood tests.

Tennessee drivers can still have their licenses revoked for refusing to take a blood-alcohol tests, but can't face additional fines or jail time.

MADD spokesperson Phaedra Marriott-Olsen was struck by a drunk driver and is now confined to a wheelchair.

“That drunk driver made two choices. The first choice he made was to drink, and the second choice he made was to drive – so, when it comes to drunk driving, the ability to be able to just find a shortcut out of it or an easy way to get out if it, is not what we need to be doing."

The Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers isn’t happy about the new law either. Association President Sara Compher-Rice says the ordinance actually stiffens some penalties, and as for those blood tests…

“There are still some circumstances when a blood test can still be taken forcefully, and that’s viewed on a  case-by-case basis when what’s called exigent circumstances are present.”

Arresting officers will, however, have to get a warrant for blood tests in most circumstances.

Tennessee legislators had to make the change or face the potential loss of some federal revenue.