Supreme Court ruling impacts DUI enforcement in Tenn.

Supreme Court ruling impacts DUI enforcement in Tenn.

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"A blood alcohol test is also related to drug offenses, and that is what we're looking for these days. Drug offenses as well as alcohol offenses," explained Sgt. Stacey Heatherly with THP. "A blood alcohol test is also related to drug offenses, and that is what we're looking for these days. Drug offenses as well as alcohol offenses," explained Sgt. Stacey Heatherly with THP.
Local defense attorney Greg Isaacs says it's also a game changer when it comes to prosecuting DUI cases in Tennessee. Local defense attorney Greg Isaacs says it's also a game changer when it comes to prosecuting DUI cases in Tennessee.

By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – We're coming up on Cinco de Mayo weekend, a time when law enforcement will be cracking down on drunk drivers.

But what you may not know is that a landmark ruling about a case in Missouri, Missouri v. McNeely, is having an impact on DUI enforcement in Tennessee. In many cases, that means no more blood alcohol tests of suspected impaired driver's without a judge's order.

In 2010, Tyler McNeely from Missouri was stopped for speeding. He refused a blood alcohol test.

So officers made him do a  blood test against his will. This month the Supreme Court ruled that was a violation of McNeely's Fourth Amendment rights.

Troopers with Tennessee Highway Patrol say the blood tests are a major tool for them during things like "No Refusal Weekends".

"A blood alcohol test is also related to drug offenses, and that is what we're looking for these days. Drug offenses as well as alcohol offenses," explained Sgt. Stacey Heatherly with THP.

But the Supreme Court ruling now means officers need a justification for that test in a lot of cases.

"So that adds an extra step for them. They'll have to articulate fully the circumstances which made it necessary for them to get a blood draw," said Knox County Assistant District Attorney Sarah Keith. She also says it's a lot more paperwork for her office to deal with.

"It adds a step in the system. It can be lengthy to get these search warrants," she added.

Local defense attorney Greg Isaacs says it's also a game changer when it comes to prosecuting DUI cases in Tennessee.

"Motions-if you compel my client to give blood, under this case, we're going to challenge the search warrant. So we think it sets a higher standard," he said, talking about the impact of the ruling on his clients.

Blood test or not, those looking to keep streets safe say they'll be working hard to hold the impaired accountable.

"We're going to do what we have to do to arrest these drunks," Sgt. Heatherly said.

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