New Tennessee DUI laws may prove to be unenforceable

Authorities say lack of money and technology makes law impractical

On July 1 a new law went into effect in Tennessee that allows anybody convicted of a drug or alcohol-related offense to be required to wear a monitoring device to ensure they are sober, according to WRCB-TV. The new law was primarily meant to make sure that Tennessee's roads are safer for motorists and pedestrians. However, law enforcement and judicial authorities are now saying that the law may be unenforceable and may not be able to deliver many of the benefits it promises.

Transdermal monitoring

The law allows transdermal monitoring devices to be used as a condition of a convicted person's parole, probation, or pretrial diversion. The devices, which are worn by offenders and track their alcohol levels, are meant to provide law enforcement officials with information about whether that person has maintained his or her sobriety so that he or she does not end up driving while intoxicated.

However, as one Blount County judge pointed out, current transdermal technology makes the law impossible to enforce, according to The Daily Times. For one, the judge claims that authorities do not actually have the devices. Perhaps more importantly, however, is that even if the devices were available, they would not provide immediate information about a person's alcohol levels. Instead, it can take up to 24 hours to receive reports about alcohol levels and even then authorities have no way of knowing where the person is or if he or she is driving, thus defeating the main purpose of the law, which is to make sure inebriated people are off the roads.

Lack of funding

Another problem is that the law sets aside no funding for the program, instead assuming that either counties or offenders will be responsible for the cost. With each device costing up to $2,300, however, officials note that the expense is likely to be unaffordable for most offenders, many of whom already have serious financial problems. Even if the devices were rented out, the cost would still be about $8 to $10 a day, which is still unaffordable for most people given that average probation length is nine months.

In addition, counties would have to either hire staffing to oversee the program or contract that responsibility out to another company. Counties say that the cost of doing so is more than they can afford.

DUI charges

While the above law appears to have a number of problems, people should still be aware that authorities in Tennessee take DUI charges very seriously. Being convicted of a DUI can have serious repercussions, including on driving privileges and on a person's professional reputation.

Anybody charged with a DUI should contact a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will use his legal expertise to fight against a DUI charge and, if necessary, ensure that any conviction is fair and reasonable for his