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More 2023 Tennessee DUI Legislation

As we all know, or should know, our laws are born with legislation sponsored by our Tennessee State Senators and Representatives. Accordingly, it is an incumbent upon all of us to keep track of what laws are being introduced, or need to be introduced, so that we can provide feedback to our legislators. In this article, I want to provide you with information relating to two Senate bills relating to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws that are pending before the legislature.

Location tracking for ignition interlock devices—According to the General Assembly website and other sources, this legislation will make it easier for law enforcement to prosecute those convicted of a DUI for getting behind the wheel under the influence. TAs of February 22, 2023 this bill, which amends T.C.A .Section 55-10-411, has now been approved by both the Senate and House, and is awaiting approval by Governor Lee.

The bill requires that all ignition interlock devices installed on vehicles after January 1, 2024 to be equipped with GPS technology to “geotag” a vehicle’s location whenever an ignition interlock device is used to start a vehicle.  The GPS will also be used when a skipped test occurs, or when circumvention of the device is detected.

Interlock devices are installed on vehicles of drivers convicted of a DUI and require drivers to pass a breath test to ensure they are not under the influence of alcohol before they can operate their vehicle. When the driver blows into the breath testing device, a photo is taken to confirm the driver is the one blowing.

Currently, law enforcement has difficulty prosecuting a driver when photo evidence confirms that a person other than the driver blows into the device because without a “geotag” at the time the ignition interlock device is used because it is not possible to determine the proper jurisdiction (county) in which the driver should be prosecuted.

Encouraging treatment for alcohol abuse for DUI offenders—In other developments, Senate Bill 328 (House Bill 144), as of March 6, 2023, remain pending approval from both branches of the state government. This law would lower from 25 to 17 the required number of days a person convicted of a second offense DUI must spend in jail before becoming eligible to participate in a substance abuse treatment program. Thus, the time spent in jail before becoming eligible for treatment would be reduced to what it used to be under the old law.

This bill also requires a judge to order a person charged with or convicted of a third or subsequent DUI offense to wear a transdermal alcohol monitoring device, such as a SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring) ankle bracelet, for a minimum of 90 days of continuous sobriety upon release on bail, unless the person’s criminal case ends before the completion of this period.

Boating Under the Influence Penalties and Licenses—As introduced, this law authorizes courts to use same sentencing alternatives for boating under the influence (BUI) as DUI.  Additionally, the law would require suspension of boating privileges for 12 months for a BUI or BUI-related implied consent violation.  Moreover, this law clarifies that law enforcement officers may seek a search warrant to perform breath and blood tests of BUI suspects.


About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants. Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD). Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve has served as Dean of the NCDD and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee.

He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 9th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen).  Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions.  He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and seven foreign countries.  After being named a Fulbright Scholar, Steve was honored to teach as a Visiting Professor at the University of Latvia Law School in the capital city of Riga, Latvia during the Spring Semester of 2019.  During the Spring Semester of 2023, Steve taught as a Visiting Professor at Eötvös Loránd University Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary. If you would like to contact the author, please visit his website at www.tndui.com.

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Steve Oberman

Steve Oberman

Since graduating from the University of Tennessee Law School in 1980, Mr. Oberman has become established as a national authority on the intricacies of DUI defense law. Steve is a former Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, co-author of a national treatise ("Drunk Driving Defense" published by Aspen/Wolters-Kluwer), and author of "DUI: The Crime and Consequences in Tennessee" (published by Thomson-Reuters/West). He has taught thousands of lawyers, judges, and members of the general public about the intricacies of this crime. Steve was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach American Criminal Law and American Trial Advocacy at the University of Latvia School of Law in 2019; in 2023 taught for a semester as a visiting professor at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary; and as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Law in 2024. Steve has also presented at a number of judicial conferences in the United States and Canada as well as for law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Czech Republic Police Academy. As a Tennessee DUI attorney, Mr. Oberman has successfully defended over two thousand clients charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In 2006, Mr. Oberman became the first DUI lawyer in Tennessee to be recognized by the National College for DUI Defense as a Board Certified Specialist in the area of DUI Defense law.

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