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Chattanooga Criminal Law Blog

DUI charges dropped against Tennessee police officer

If you drive northwest of Chattanooga for about 150 miles, you will arrive in Hendersonville. The city has at one time or another been home to musical figures such as Taylor Swift, Johnny Cash, Kelly Clarkson and Roy Orbison, among others. It is also home to a police officer who was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

After being accused of DUI and possession of a firearm while under the influence, the 24-year-old officer will not be prosecuted. However, he was briefly suspended from his job but has since been returned to patrol, according to news reports.

DOJ halts two Tennessee pharmacies from dispensing opioids

The opioid crisis has hit Tennessee particularly hard. In 2016, our state saw nearly 1,200 deaths caused by opioid overdoses. Our overdose rate is a staggering 18 deaths per 100,000 people—much higher than the national average of 13 deaths per 100,000 people.

Many of these deaths result from prescriptions written by doctors. In this area, Tennessee is also far above the national average. Tennessee clinicians wrote 118 opioid prescriptions per 100 people, compared to the U.S. average of 70. To combat opioid-related deaths and reduce over-prescription, the Department of Justice issued a temporary restraining order to prevent two local pharmacies from dispensing controlled substances, including opioids.

How can the criminal justice system address mental health?

People who face criminal charges often have mental health challenges. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system does not always address mental health. When underlying issues are not dealt with, criminal offenders are likely to repeat, which is a costly cycle.

The problem of mental illness is one that all courts should be prepared to handle. Around 64 percent of inmates in jails suffer from mental health issues, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics. Identifying mental health problems early in the court process can help individuals get the services they need.

Drug bust leads to arrest of 12 people

Tennessee law enforcement agencies are determined to crack down on drug trafficking and sales in the state. As a result, people from all walks of life are getting arrested and charged with serious drug crimes.

For example, on Jan. 16, narcotics agents from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office spent the day busting 12 Tennessee residents for allegedly participating in a variety of drug crimes. The arrests were the culmination of a year-long investigation into several alleged drug dealers operating in and around Monroe County. Over the course of the investigation, officers seized various controlled substances and weapons. In addition, six more people are expected to be taken into custody.

States consider restrictive DUI reforms

Drunk driving laws in Tennessee and across the country may be heading toward more restrictive limits on alcohol consumption if one scientific panel has its way. The panel was charged with developing a plan to cut down on the risks of fatalities or serious injuries linked to drunk driving accidents. Each year, around 10,000 people lose their lives across the country in DUI-linked crashes.

The panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine made several recommendations to states for reducing drunk driving. While 49 states, including Tennessee, have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) legal limit of 0.08 percent, Utah shifted to a limit of 0.05 percent on Dec. 30, 2018. For many people, an 0.05 percent BAC limit may be quickly reached with only a few drinks. For most women weighing 120 pounds or more, they would reach the legal limit after two drinks in an evening. While men weighing around 160 pounds would also reach the limit at two drinks, those who weigh 180 pounds or more may be able to drink three alcoholic beverages before being unable to drive.

The many forms of financial abuse

Financial abuse is one of many tactics used by an individual in an effort to control his or her spouse or partner. There are many different forms of financial abuse such as not allowing a victim to benefit from an asset or to obtain information about the family finances.

In some cases, this type of abuse begins as what the victims perceives to be a loving or kind gesture. However, over time, it becomes an effort to trap an individual in a relationship. Generally speaking, the victim doesn't understand the extent of the abuse until he or she makes an effort to leave the relationship. This is because money that a victim may have had access to in the past is now in an account controlled by the abuser. It is also possible that the money has been used for other purposes before a victim can reassert control over his or her finances.

Jail time and fines typical penalties after first DUI arrest

Traffic patrol officers in Tennessee constantly watch for signs of intoxicated drivers. People pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving will generally be asked to take some type of sobriety or breath test. Failing a test will result in arrest. People who refuse to cooperate with a test will likely also end up in jail where authorities could insist on a blood or urine test to look for alcohol or drugs. As the criminal justice system processes people accused of intoxicated driving, first-time offenders can expect lighter sentences than those with previous records.

Law enforcement agencies generally hold offenders for eight hours to two days after a drunk driving arrest. Even first-time offenders will spend some time in jail because authorities want them to sober up prior to release. They will eventually have an opportunity to post bail and secure their release. They will need to appear in court later and deal with their criminal charges.

Don't let a theft accusation ruin your life

If you have been accused of theft in a retail store in the state of Tennessee, you may be wondering about how a guilty charge could affect your life in the future. Being found guilty of petty theft, shoplifting or burglary could have many negative implications on your life, even if you were found guilty of stealing an item of very low value.

In addition, you can face criminal charges even if you did not successfully steal an item. This is because, in many cases, only intent needs to be proven.

DUI enforcement escalates during winter holidays

Impaired-driving enforcement will be ramped up by law enforcement through the winter holidays as part of a partnership between the Green County Sheriff's Department and Tennessee Highway Safety Office. Police will set up additional sobriety checkpoints and maintain a highly visible presence on the roads in the period leading up to New Year's Day. In addition, law enforcement agencies locally and nationally will increase public messaging about drunk driving and its potential dangers.

The highway safety office's director said that the enforcement campaign is aimed to decrease injuries and fatalities related to drunk driving during the holiday season. He asked state residents to pay attention and drive safely on the roads, emphasizing that more police will be out and engaging in traffic enforcement during that time. He also encouraged people to make use of a designated driver system to prevent people from getting behind the wheel while under the influence. The state campaign, Booze It and Lose It, is part of a national project funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

Tennessee attorney general joins call for identity theft database

Across the country, attorneys general in nearly every state have made an increased effort to combat identity fraud. One way in which they are doing so is pressuring the Social Security Administration to move faster when identifying identity theft. The Attorney General of Tennessee has joined with the attorneys general of 42 other states and the District of Columbia to lobby the SSA for changes.

The Attorneys General are requesting that the SSA create a searchable database that will give financial institutions real-time ability to verify a consumer's identity. They argue this change is necessary because there is currently a lag between when a consumer reports their identity stolen and when financial institutions receive notice. This gives thieves a window to commit fraud with financial institutions entirely unable to stop identity theft until it is too late.

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