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Battle continues over implied consent in vehicular homicide trial

Most residents of Tennessee are aware of how dangerous it is to drink and drive. Not everyone considers the consequences before getting behind the wheel, however. Certainly not everyone thinks they are legally intoxicated after one or two drinks, and some do make the mistake of driving. A man who recently crashed his car is now facing vehicular homicide.

The accused individual reportedly had two 40-ounce beers in a five-hour span before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle with his fiance. According to the police report from the night in question, the accused was speeding, lost control and crashed into a tree. The accident killed his fiance.

Tennessee Highway Patrol administered a blood alcohol test to the accused after the accident. In a hearing about whether the test would be used in the upcoming trial, the accused said that he agreed to the test because the Highway Patrol Trooper allegedly told him that the test was mandatory and that he would lose his license for a year if he didn't take the test. The judge ultimately ruled that the accused gave consent the minute he chose to drive.

This is not the first time the implied consent question has come up in court, and while this judge consulted prior cases to come to his ruling, this is not likely to be the last time the implied consent law is questioned. Tennessee DUI laws are designed to protect the safety of all residents. It is important to keep in mind that all residents have rights, even those suspected of driving under the influence.

The judge has decided that the blood-alcohol test can be used in the criminal trial. Tennessee prosecutors still must prove the accusation of vehicular homicide, however. If proven guilty, the accused might face imprisonment, parole, probation, electronic monitoring or even the death penalty. The prosecution is saddled with the burden of proof. The accused is still innocent until proven guilty, however, and he is entitled to adequate legal defense and a fair trial.

Source: Johnson City Press, Judge: Blood alcohol test can be used in case from fatal Telford crash, Becky Campbell, Nov. 15, 2013

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