Tuesday, May 28, 2024

DUI News Blog

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Good News-Alternatives to Jail for Tennessee DUI Offenders

Tenn. Public Ch. 774

As of April 8 2024, there is some rare good news for those convicted of DUI.  On that date, a new law (Tennessee Public Chapter 774) became effective. This new law amends Tennessee Code Annotated Section (T.C.A. §) 55-10-402(f)(1) and (2). Prior to the 2024 change, in the State of Tennessee the use of alternative facilities for service of jail time for DUI offenders was left to the discretion of the sheriff or chief administrative officer of a local jail or workhouse. In practice, this generally meant also approving the obtaining the approval of the prosecutor.

It appears that the 2024 amendment contained in Pubic Chapter 774 eliminates the necessity of obtaining approval from the sheriff or chief administrative officer, and instead leaves the decision to use an alternative facility to the discretion of the judge (the court).

“‘[A]lternative facilities’ include, but are not limited to, vacant schools or office buildings or any other building or structure that would be suitable for housing DUI offenders for short periods of time on an as-needed basis and licensed through the department of mental health and substance abuse services for the state.” Therefore, it is laws like this that provide a great opportunity for lawyers who invest the time and effort into a case to make a huge difference for certain DUI defendants in the right circumstances to avoid having to return to actual incarceration. They now have the ability to make their arguments before an unbiased judge instead of having to rely on the recommendation of a law enforcement officer.

Let’s hope the Tennessee Legislature continues to make smart decisions.  Judges should have more discretion to allow alternatives to incarceration in appropriate circumstances.


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 eight foreign countries.  After being named a Fulbright Scholar, Steve was honored to teach as a Visiting Professor at the University of Latvia Faculty of Law (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. In the Spring Semester of 2024, Steve was designated a Fulbright Scholar for a second time and taught American Criminal Law and American Trial Advocacy at The University of Ljubljana Faculty of Law in the capital city of Ljubljana, Slovenia. 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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