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Clarksville Criminal Law Blog

Researchers step closer to marijuana breath test technology

Unlike alcohol consumption, which law enforcement can measure with a breath testing device, detection of marijuana consumption presents challenges in Tennessee impaired driving cases. A group of scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have discovered how to measure the vapor pressure of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, a compound found in marijuana.

A chemical engineer from the institute explained that the transition of a liquid to a gas creates vapor pressure. Molecules leaving the bloodstream in the lungs can sometimes be detected in the breath. By identifying the vapor pressure of a marijuana compound, manufacturers might gain the foundation for building a marijuana breath test that can be used in the field by law enforcement.

Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor pleads guilty in DUI case

Tennessee residents who followed the National Football League during the 1980s and 1990s will undoubtedly be familiar with Lawrence Taylor. The former linebacker has been involved in a number of regrettable off-the-field incidents. Taylor's latest brush with the law was resolved on June 19 when the Hall of Famer pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence in Florida.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Taylor will serve 75 hours of community service and have an ignition interlock device fitted to his vehicle. He will also pay a fine reported to be about $1,500 and lose his driving privileges for a period of nine months. Taylor will be able to buy out half of his hours of community service at the rate of $10 per hour, according to media reports.

The Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination

Tennessee residents will likely know that criminal defendants 'take the Fifth" when they invoke their constitutional right against self-incrimination. The Fifth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, and it states that individuals cannot be compelled to testify against themselves. Suspects can invoke their right against self-incrimination at any time from the moment they are taken into custody until their trials are concluded.

Like many aspects of the American criminal justice system, the right protected by the Fifth Amendment has its origins in English common law. It was introduced in the 17th century during a time of political and legal reform. The Fifth Amendment allows criminal suspects and defendants to say nothing when questioned by police officers or prosecutors, but it does not allow them to answer some questions while refusing to answer others.

Golfer Tiger Woods faces DUI charges

Tennessee fans of golfer Tiger Woods may have heard that he was taken into custody on May 26 on charges of drunk driving. The incident occurred at around 3 a.m. in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Woods was booked into jail shortly after 7 a.m. and released just before 11 a.m. He said that alcohol was not involved and that he had mixed prescription medicines without realizing the effect they would have. The 41-year-old golfer apologized for the incident.

2 teenagers accused of burglary, accidental shooting

Tennessee authorities have reported that two 15-year-old boys were taken into custody after they were involved in a burglary. One of the boys also reportedly caused the accidental shooting of a 14-year-old boy with a handgun that had been taken during the burglary.

The incident occurred on May 13. A woman received an alert on her phone that warned her and her daughter that the two teenagers had entered their home. She called the authorities as they watched the teenagers go through their belongings. However, an alarm that her phone triggered scared the two boys away before the authorities were able to arrive. Before leaving, however, the boys were able to take about $500 in cash, two iPads, the daughter's backpack and a loaded handgun.

Study shows mandatory ignition interlock laws save lives

State laws that require all drivers convicted of DUI to have ignition interlock devices in their vehicles are linked to a decrease in fatal drunk driving accidents, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Over half of U.S. states, including Tennessee, have mandatory ignition interlock laws.

For the study, researchers at two public health schools looked at the impact ignition interlock laws had on fatal drunk driving crashes from 1982 through 2013. They found that laws requiring all drunk drivers to install ignition interlocks led to a 7 percent reduction in fatal crashes involving at least one drunk driver.

Woman charged in connection with drunk driving crashes

A 32-year-old Tennessee woman is facing a raft of criminal charges including multiple counts of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment after she was allegedly involved in two impaired driving accidents in Kingsport on the evening of April 14. Police reports indicate that the woman was placed in custody after being taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

According to Kingston Police Department records, the woman was traveling westbound on West Stone Drive at approximately 7:48 p.m. when she ignored a red light and struck a car that had been proceeding northbound on Gibson Mill Road. Eyewitnesses say that the woman then tried to flee the scene by heading north on Gibson Mill Road, but she was involved in another accident almost immediately according to police. The second accident left a Dodge pickup truck on its roof and prompted paramedics to transport its three occupants to an area medical facility for evaluation. The man and woman traveling in the first vehicle allegedly struck by the woman escaped without injury.

Tennessee begins campaign to reduce drugged-driving cases

Tennessee motorists may be interested to learn that on March 22, the Tennessee Highway Safety Office and other agencies launched the "Stop Drugged Driving" campaign. This campaign is a response to a sharp increase in car accidents and fatalities that were caused by drivers who were operating their vehicles while impaired by drugs.

According to the director of the THSO, more car accident fatalities have been caused by drivers who were under the influence of drugs than by drunk drivers. In 2015, of the 962 fatal car accidents, 32 percent were caused by a drugged driver. Only 26 percent of the accidents involved a driver who was drunk. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations also tested blood samples from approximately 20,000 driving offenses from 2016 and found that 9,000 of the samples tested positive for drugs.

Tennessee teens share police chase on Facebook

Four teenagers in Memphis used Facebook Live to send streaming video of the police chasing them in a stolen vehicle. A representative from the district attorney's office gang unit said that they appeared to be making a movie out of their crime spree.

According to police reports, the four juveniles, whose ages ranged from 15 to 17, allegedly stole a car from a woman in Hickory Hill. At one point, one of the suspects reportedly pointed a gun at the woman when she saw them with her car. A police chase of the stolen vehicle ensued until one of its tires became deflated in front of a hotel on Mt. Moriah.

Colts defensive lineman facing DUI charge

Tennessee pro football fans may have heard that, on Feb. 25, Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman David Parry was taken into police custody in Arizona after he was accused of stealing a golf cart and driving under the influence. Shortly after taking the golf cart, he was accused of being involved in a hit-and-run after the cart collided with a gate.

Authorities stated that, at about 2:30 a.m., Parry and two other men asked a golf cart taxi driver to take them home. After the other two men exited the vehicle, the defensive lineman was accused of assaulting the driver and drove away in the cart. Authorities were then alerted to a hit-and-run, where they found Parry and the golf cart. When they arrived at the scene, the authorities stated that Parry appeared to be under the influence and was cursing at them as they took him into custody.