In State v. Decosimo, 2018 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 85, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has held that Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-413 violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Article I, § 8 of the Tennessee Constitution. If you have been charged with driving under the influence and subjected to a blood draw that resulted in a Blood Alcohol or Drug Concentration Test (BADT) that was conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory, then this opinion may have a significant impact on your case. Accordingly, you would be well served to immediately seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can assist you in evaluating whether you have a valid legal challenge.
Section 55-10-413 provides that a “fee in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) shall be assessed upon a conviction for driving under the influence… for each offender who has taken a breath alcohol test on an evidential breath testing unit provided, maintained, and administered by a law enforcement agency for the purpose of determining the breath alcohol content or has submitted to a chemical test to determine the alcohol or drug content of the blood or urine.” Ultimately, this fee goes to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (T.B.I.) which is problematic because it creates an incentive for the forensic scientist at the T.B.I. Crime Laboratory to produce results that lead to a criminal conviction. These fees provide direct funding to the state agency which employs them. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that the results of any BADT conducted by a T.B.I. forensic scientist are not biased under the circumstances.
The Tennessee Supreme Court has granted the State’s application for permission to appeal the ruling of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. The appeal has been set for oral argument on May 31, 2018.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Tennessee and are seeking legal counsel, please contact Stephens Law, PLC as soon as possible to begin preparing your defense. Our attorneys are seasoned criminal trial lawyers and have the experience needed to protect your rights.
MATT STEPHENS is a member of the Nashville law firm, Stephens Law, PLC. He practices almost exclusively in the area of criminal law.