I want to take a moment to update you on some of the bills I sponsored or co-sponsored in the past session; some have already become law while others will become effective January 2012.
Working with the district attorneys from across Tennessee, we passed a law to make it more difficult for criminals to escape justice through a minor technical error. Several times in the past few years a typographical error on a search warrant has caused evidence against a criminal to be thrown out from consideration by a jury. The new law makes it clear that if a “good faith mistake or technical violation” occurs on a warrant, that small error cannot be used by defense lawyers to exclude evidence from the jury. This change in the law will go a long way to putting the bad guys behind bars where they belong.
A new DUI new law clarifies the provisions of ignition interlock device requirements and driving restrictions. After conviction of a DUI, driving may be restricted to places of employment, probation meetings, court-ordered alcohol safety programs, full-time enrollment in a college or university, scheduled interlock monitoring appointments, scheduled litter pick up and places of worship for regularly scheduled religious services.
Our officers have also been given greater authority to enforce DUI laws. The new law permits an officer to test the blood-alcohol content of certain drivers, regardless of whether they consent. Under the new provisions of the law, officers can require a blood-alcohol content test be administered where a driver is suspected of driving under the influence, vehicular homicide or aggravated vehicular homicide and a passenger is age 16 or under, or the driver has a prior conviction for driving under the influence, vehicular homicide or aggravated vehicular homicide.
Law enforcement has also been given an additional tool to fight repeat DUI offenders. When defendants have one or more prior convictions, they shall not be released unless a judge or magistrate determines that they are not a danger to the community. If the judge or magistrate determines that they are a danger to the community, conditions of release may include installing an ignition interlock device, electronic monitoring with random drug testing or pretrial residency at an in-patient alcohol or drug rehab facility.
Tennessee’s laws regarding harassment have been changed. A new law broadens the definition of “harassment” to include electronic communication with or about another person or transmission or display of images that causes or may reasonably cause emotional distress. This law also allows law enforcement to access log files, images or communications posted on social network services web sites with a warrant, court order or consent.
The Legislature also increased the punishment for those who attempt to disrupt a funeral. The penalty for disorderly conduct within 500 feet of a funeral, memorial, burial service or funeral processional is now a Class B misdemeanor.
Thank you for the honor of serving you in the Tennessee House of Representatives. I am here to assist you. Please contact my office at 423-339-0939 whenever I may be of service.