The lock down is over and the mask mandates are gone. Summer is on the horizon and Fizer Bonding Company, premier provider of bail bonds in Robertson and Montgomery counties, wants to wish everyone a 2022 Happy Memorial Day. The start of summer is a great time to pop a cold one and get the drink blender out from under the cabinet. Let’s take a trip down memory lane looking at laws surrounding getting in trouble for making a toast and having good cheer.
New York was the first state to make this threat. Lawmakers in the Empire State passed a DUI law in 1910. Driving while intoxicated, a vaguely-defined offense, was punishable by a year in jail and a staggering $1,000 fine. Remember, driving was new to streets lined with buggies and horses so this law was highly targeted to the rich who could afford the horseless carriage. This is equivalent to over $30,000 in today’s dollars. But, these possible punishments could add up to almost the same thing in today’s Tennessee if you put together all of the costs from arrest to bail and the completion of court proceedings, plus attorney and other miscellaneous fees. Robert Borkenstein, the father of the Drunk-O-Meter, invented the Breathalyzer in 1953. Nevertheless, DUI prosecutions were uncommon and mostly unsuccessful until the 1990s.
In that decade, the efforts of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other advocacy groups, which began in the early 1980s, started bearing fruit. Many states, including Tennessee, lowered their BAC limits and otherwise got tough on DUI. At the same time, courts approved some controversial enforcement tools, like roadside sobriety checkpoints. This trend continues. Several years ago, Utah lowered the BAC limit to .06, and many states began passing failure-to-submit laws which criminalized breath test refusal.
DUI prosecutions have changed a lot over the years. But the need to get out of jail quickly with a Fizer bondsman, remains the same. DUI cases are very time-consuming. There’s lots of physical and scientific evidence to review. At Fizer Bonding Company, our Montgomery County bail bonds agents arrange for prompt and affordable jail release. So, your lawyer has plenty of time to review all your options.
If the defendant is still in jail, (which is why it is so important to get out on bond) most attorneys don’t have time to thoroughly review the charging instruments, like the information, which is like a grand jury indictment. That’s a shame, because about one in ten of these documents has an error. And about one in ten of these cases involves a serious error, that could mean serious consequences, for the defendant that does not have a vigilant defending attorney. That doesn’t sound like much, unless your case is the one with the serious error.
Lack of Jurisdiction
If you go through Clarksville booking, you could theoretically spend the night in jail anywhere in the state. When these cases go to court, things are different.
Montgomery County judges only have jurisdiction over Montgomery County criminal matters. Many communities straddle the line between Montgomery County and another jurisdiction, like Robertson or Stewart County.
DUI collision cases are another possible problem. Frequently, the defendant lives in one county and the wreck was in another county.
In these situations, the state must file charges where the offense occurred. There are no ifs, ands, or buts.
Theoretically, wrong county cases are easy to fix. Prosecutors must simply start over in the correct jurisdiction. Practically, however, there are issues. Most prosecutors don’t like to start over. Sometimes they would rather cut a deal and move onto other matters.
Typos and transcription errors are quite common in charging instruments. Information gets copied and recopied so many times that mistakes are almost inevitable. Think of the merry go round effect. A single statement is read from a piece of paper starting with one person and is repeated to the next person, till it goes around the room and the last person says the statement out loud…usually it is way off from the original one on the piece of paper it started out as.
Not all such mistakes are fatal errors. Smith/Smythe is the classic example. Sometimes, however, there’s a variance between the pleadings and the proof. If the pleadings state the defendant was driving a Ford and she was driving a Chevrolet, the state cannot prove an important element of the case; the actual vehicle being driven.
On a related note, there are several ways to prove DUI, as outlined below. If the pleadings reference a nonexistent breath test, a judge could throw the case out of court.
Most DUI trial cases are refusal cases. The conviction rate in test cases against Clarksville inmates is over 80 percent. So, in many cases, challenging chemical test results isn’t a lost cause, but it’s close. The three approved Field Sobriety Tests all have some serious issues.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
The first test in the three-test battery is also the most controversial one, not because it doesn’t work, but because it works too well.
Nystagmus, a condition also known as lazy eye, is very common. Muscle weakness in the eye causes involuntary pupil movements at certain viewing angles. Alcohol intoxication causes nystagmus. A mild childhood brain injury is also a much more common cause. Since the symptoms aren’t very serious, most people who have nystagmus don’t know they have it. In other words, what appears to be evidence of intoxication could arguably also be evidence of a childhood or teen brain injury.
Mostly because of this weakness, many Robertson County judges only allow prosecutors to use HGN evidence for limited purposes.
Somewhat similarly, by the book, the OLS is sure-fire proof of intoxication. But in the real world, things are different.
The one-leg stand, like the walk-and-turn, is a divided attention test. According to scientists, intoxicated people cannot multitask. So, during the OLS, the administering officer looks for physical and mental clues, such as:
- Elevating the wrong leg,
- Holding the elevated leg at the wrong angle,
- Using arms for balance, and
- Setting the elevated leg down too early.
Some of these intoxication clues are very ticky-tack. Officers may testify that the defendant “failed” the test, even if s/he clearly scored a seven or eight out of ten. Many people over 40 years old routinely complain about aching joints and bad balance. Others joke they could fail the OLS test on their best days. The jury gets a chance to grade the paper, and in most cases, the grade jurors assign is the only one that counts.
Walk and Turn
This test, which is also known as the walking a straight line test, is much like the OLS. It’s a divided attention test which assesses mental acuity (ability to follow directions) and manual dexterity (ability to, you guessed it, walk a straight line).
Whether you are drunk, sober, or somewhere in between, walking a straight line heel to toe is quite difficult. That’s especially true if this test is the last one officers administer. By that time, most defendants are pretty sure they’re going to jail. As a result, they usually just go through the motions on the WAT.
This section will be rather brief. As mentioned, the chemical test conviction rate is quite high. Remember the old DuPont saying, “better living through chemisty”. But, the situation isn’t hopeless. In a borderline BAC case, like a .08, the Breathalyzer’s high margin of error, which could be as much as 50 percent, may come into play.
Additional factors, like personal illness, could push the margin of error even higher. As a rule of thumb, every one degree of a person’s internal temperature, above 98.6 degrees increases BAC readings by .08.
Technical flaws could be a factor as well. For example, Breathalyzers often mistake ketones for ethanol. Diabetics, smokers, people who are fasting, and many other situations can give people naturally high ketone levels.
For more information about getting out of jail quickly if you have been arrested for drunk driving and at the lowest prices around (10% premium of the bond), contact the Clarksville, TN bail bondsman at Fizer Bonding Company. Our bondsmen are available 24/7 and we will respect your privacy and treat you with respect, even at 3:00 am in the morning!
More value added FREE information can be found in our online articles. Fizer Bonding Company is a proud member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents and the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ll get your tail outta jail!”
Fizer Bonding Company Montgomery County Tennessee
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