Articles Posted in Traffic Laws

In 2013 the Tennessee Department of Safety unveiled new kiosks at DMVs across the state which helped make renewing a license a much quicker process. These kiosks are also equipped with access to state’s driver’s license network records and facial recognition software.

So what does that have to do with fraud?  After any person uses a kiosk to update their driver’s license, the software runs your information using the facial recognition software to determine if you have ever received a driver’s license under a different name.  If so, that person is then “flagged” and the Department of Safety’s identity crime unit is notified and an investigation ensues.

Because the software is so new and most people are using the kiosks for the first time, most of the flagged individuals are alleged to have used an alternate name to gain a driver’s license from years earlier.  Although it is possible they could face criminal charges, most are subject to a two (2) year suspension of their driver’s license due to the statute of limitations.

Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson recently proposed a $50.1 million plan to purchase body cameras for all 1,440 of the city’s police officers and to install new dash cameras on 880 department vehicles. Although Mayor Barry has been a staunch supporter of body cameras, she raised concerns at the hearing on March 16, 2017. Her concerns were centered on the cost of this proposal in light of similar programs implemented in other states that were far less costly. Despite Mayor Barry’s concerns, Chief Anderson appears to be of the mindset that if the department is going to do it, it better be done right, and the cameras must be working at all times in order to insure public confidence.

 
Police body cameras, which provide video footage of arrests and encounters between police and civilians, are considered one way to reduce the potential for police misconduct. These cameras could also aid persons who are criminally charged in presenting a defense in addition to rebutting an officer’s testimony. On the flip side, the State could benefit from the video footage if it is relevant to the case and use it against the defendant at trial. For example, in a driving under the influence (DUI) case, the reason why the driver was stopped often becomes an issue. Common reasons for a traffic stop include following too closely, swerving over a traffic line, failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign or running a red light. These “stop” issues, which fall under the probable cause standard, could be simplified by the video footage. In addition, incidents involving police officers using force or a citizen resisting arrest could also be clarified by video that will be preserved under this proposed plan.

 
To date, this proposed plan and its funding is essentially a work in progress, and we will keep you apprised of its progress and implementation. When and if the body and vehicle camera program is implemented, it will be a game changer in future criminal cases.

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Every year around this time our firm gets a flood of calls from people who receive criminal charges while on their way to or while leaving Bonnaroo. They have ranged from simple possession and paraphernalia to felony drug charges. Regardless, each call starts out the same, “I was pulled over for…..”, which leads to their car getting searched and ultimately them leaving with a court date they had not planned for. So in preparation for this annual event, we at Freeman & Fuson have compiled a list of the top 5 reasons we have seen for Bonnaroo patrons getting pulled over and the counties they seem to occur in the most.

1. Speeding (TCA §55-8-152) – This may seem obvious, but many people who are on their way to Bonnaroo are in a rush to get there. Speeding is an easy way to get your car pulled over and give the officer a chance to make contact. The easy advice is to set your cruise control and keep a look out for the posted limits.

2. Following too Closely (TCA §55-8-124) – Getting pulled over for following to close to the car in front of you may be the most subjective reason on the list, but it is one we have seen each Bonnaroo season with more frequency. Make sure you keep plenty of distance between you and the car in front so that this is not even an option for an officer to pull you over.

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On April 3rd the Tennessee Highway Patrol announced a campaign that will take aim at distracted drivers. We have all seen these drivers, and we maybe ones ourselves. This campaign includes placing troopers and local law enforcement in SUVs and tractor-trailers so that they can get a better vantage point to see if drivers are texting. The goal of the new campaign is to reduce traffic fatalities statewide.

Tennessee enacted the “Texting while Driving Law” in July of 2009. As a law firm that handles a large number of traffic citations, this law has not been enforced with any regularity until now. Texting while driving is covered under Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-199 and is a very specific statute. In part it reads:

“No person while driving a motor vehicle on any public road or highway shall use a handheld mobile phone to transmit or read a written message.”