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Knoxville drunk driving accident lawyerGetting into a car accident can be a very scary experience, especially if you are hurt. It is not likely to make you feel any better if you step out of your wrecked vehicle and discover that the other driver is intoxicated. Drunk drivers are almost always responsible for the accidents they are involved in, and may be both criminally and civilly liable. Seeking emergency medical care as needed is always the first priority after a motor vehicle accident. 

However, if you are able, there are steps you can take right after the accident that can help when it comes time to seek compensation. Calling an attorney as soon as possible may also help you with preserving evidence and start you on the right path to recovering damages. 

Steps You Can Take After a Drunk Driving Wreck

After any motor vehicle crash, getting to safety is the most important thing. If anyone is seriously hurt, call an ambulance first. Always move accident vehicles off the roadway if possible and get yourself to a safe and well-lit area. There may be additional safety concerns after a crash with a drunk driver. Intoxicated people are prone to acting belligerent and even becoming violent, especially during a high-stress situation. Typical advice, like getting the other driver’s insurance information, may be impossible. When you can safely do so, follow these steps: 

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Knox County criminal defense attorneyEveryone makes mistakes. Sadly, a single split-second mistake can have consequences that impact the rest of your life if you end up with a criminal record. Even one conviction can limit your future prospects, including educational and career opportunities. Fortunately, in Tennessee there is a way for certain offenders to avoid having a conviction on their record through judicial diversion. Eligible defendants may be able to have their charges dismissed after completing a period of probation or meeting other conditions. If you are facing any criminal charge, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney immediately. 

How Does Judicial Diversion Work?

To receive a judicial diversion, you must first plead guilty to your charges. Rather than sentencing you, the court “diverts” the charge for a specified amount of time. During that time, you will be required to follow certain conditions set by the court. Conditions may include things like submitting to drug testing, completing a class, and avoiding new charges. The conditions set will vary somewhat depending on your charges and the circumstances of your case. 

After you successfully complete the diversion period, you can return to court and ask the judge to enter an Order of Expungement, erasing the charges from your criminal record. 

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Knoxville motorcycle crash lawyerIt is well-known that motorcycles can be a bit dangerous. When you get into a crash in a car, you have some level of protection from the vehicle. When you get into a crash on a motorcycle, your body takes the brunt of the collision. This is why serious head, neck, and spinal injuries are common. Careless drivers are often to blame for motorcycle crashes, but the motorcyclist’s failure to wear a helmet may be partly to blame for the severity of his injuries. Even if it is clear that a driver’s negligence caused the crash, whether the driver is responsible for the full extent of a biker’s injuries is a separate issue. If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident, it is important that you begin working with a licensed personal injury attorney to maximize your chances of recovering full compensation. 

What is Comparative Negligence? 

In Tennessee, the comparative negligence rule states that you must have been less than 50% responsible for your injuries in order to recover any damages from the negligent party who injured you. So, to prevail on a negligence claim you must prove that the driver who injured you was at least 50% to blame for the extent of your injuries. Unfortunately, if the court finds that your injuries are at least half your fault, you will not be able to recover. 

This will be a very fact-intensive legal analysis best handled by an experienced lawyer. If you were not wearing your helmet and suffered a head injury, the court will want to know whether your head injury would have been less severe or prevented entirely if you had worn a helmet. On the other hand, if you suffered an abdominal or leg injury, whether or not you were wearing a helmet is probably not relevant. 

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Knoxville DUI defense lawyerTennessee has rather harsh DUI penalties, even for first (and hopefully only) DUIs. You have likely already suffered through a one-year license suspension, DUI education programs, probation, or even jail time. So what happens if you get another DUI? The penalties you will face in Tennessee get progressively harsher with each DUI, going all the way up to a two-year prison term. 

It is clear from the sentencing guidelines that this state takes drunk driving incredibly seriously. If you are facing your second, third, or subsequent DUI it is extremely important that you work with experienced legal counsel to give yourself the best chances of a more positive outcome. 

What Happens After a Second DUI? 

While a first DUI can be quite serious, a second drunk driving charge is worse. Courts may see a first DUI as a learning opportunity, but are unlikely to be as forgiving after a second incident. This time, the period of driver’s license suspension is two years and you could be facing up to 11 months in jail. The minimum jail sentence, however, is 45 days - substantially longer than the 48-hour minimum a first DUI carries. You will also probably be ordered to substance abuse treatment, and you will have an interlock system in your vehicle when you begin driving again. 

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Anderson County BUI Defense LawyerTennessee offers some truly beautiful lakes and rivers, and there is no better way to experience these bodies of water than by boating on them. However, be careful - in Tennessee, boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (BUI) is a crime, similar to the more well-known crime of DUI. However, the laws governing which types of boats fall under BUI laws can be confusing. If you have been charged with a BUI, it is important to get in touch with an experienced attorney. BUI is a serious crime that can lead to steep fines, jail time, and loss of boating privileges. Working with a qualified attorney reduces your risk of facing these harsh penalties. 

Which Watercrafts Fall Under BUI Statutes? 

The general rule is that if you need a license for the type of boat you are operating, you can get a BUI while driving it. This includes all motorized boats, regardless of what type of motor. It does not matter whether you are operating a speedboat capable of achieving highway-like speeds or a small fishing boat with just a trolling motor. You can get a DUI on a slow-moving tractor on land, and you can get a BUI on a slow-moving boat on the water. 

This law also includes sailboats. Sailboats can achieve high speeds and require skill and care to operate. An intoxicated person is unlikely to be able to safely operate a sailboat. 

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Anderson County DUI Defense attorneyIn Tennessee, driving under the influence of any drug is illegal, whether the drug was prescribed to you or not. Being prescribed a medication makes it legal for you to possess and use that medication according to your doctor’s instructions, but you could still find yourself charged with a DUI if you drive after taking it. In fact, Tennessee law explicitly states that having a valid prescription is no defense to a DUI. If you are facing DUI charges, whether it is your first DUI or a second or subsequent DUI, you will want an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and fight for a good outcome in your case. 

What Prescription Drugs Could Lead to a DUI Charge? 

A number of prescription medications can impact your ability to drive safely - and legally. If you are prescribed any of these drugs, you will need to be careful to avoid driving while you are under their influence. Even some medications you do not think of as a narcotic can lead to a DUI charge in Tennessee if they affect your mental state. You could face DUI charges after taking: 

  • Narcotic Painkillers - This category is fairly clear - prescription pain medications like Oxycodone and Dilaudid impair your ability to drive, and you will get a DUI if you drive after taking them.

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Oak Ridge DUI defense attorneyTennessee is known for having the harshest penalties for first-time DUIs in the country. Unlike most other states, a first DUI comes with a one-year loss of driving privileges. But you probably still need to get to work or school, doctor’s appointments, or just the grocery store. There are legal options for retaining at least limited driving privileges after one DUI. You will need a knowledgeable attorney to represent you and help you retain your driving privileges in Tennessee. If you have been charged with a first DUI, getting a good attorney should be a high priority for you. 

What is a Restricted License? 

A restricted license allows you to keep your driving privileges, but with restrictions. In Tennessee, this means you may only be allowed to drive to certain places and at certain times. For example, you may not be allowed to drive after a certain time in the evening, or you may only be permitted to drive to school and back home. The level and type of restrictions can vary quite a bit depending on the circumstances of your DUI and what terms your lawyer is able to negotiate. 

The purpose of a restricted license is to prevent any further impaired driving - someone who has committed one DUI is not likely to be drunk while driving to work at 8:30 am on a Tuesday, nor is he likely to be drunk while driving home from work later that day. A restricted license, however, would prevent that first-time offender from stopping at a bar after work, or driving to a party on the weekend, thus, in theory, preventing him from driving drunk again. 

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Posted on in DUI/DWI

Anderson County DUI Defense LawyerUnder Tennessee state law, most DUI charges are misdemeanors. There are, however, some circumstances under which a DUI can be handled as a felony. A felony DUI can carry prison time over a year and have a serious impact on your ability to secure employment and housing in the future. If you have been arrested for DUI -- especially if you have been told that it is being treated as a felony -- you will need a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney to maximize your chances of avoiding a harsh outcome. 

When Does a DUI Involve Felony Charges? 

There are several reasons a DUI might be charged as a felony. These circumstances typically involve either repeat offenses or creating a real danger, if not actual harm, to another person. Here are a few reasons a DUI might be treated as a felony in Tennessee: 

  • Fourth or Subsequent Offense - In Tennessee, a fourth DUI is automatically a felony, regardless of whether you caused harm to anyone. A minimum of 150 days must be served in jail or prison. 

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Anderson County Pedestrian Injury LawyerFailure to yield the right of way is a common cause of car accidents of all kinds, but it can be an especially serious problem in accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians. Some drivers are ignorant of the laws governing the right of way for pedestrians and bicyclists, while others may fail to yield the right of way due to other factors that impede their driving abilities. In these cases, pedestrians and bicyclists are largely defenseless, and they can suffer severe injuries. If you have been hit by a car, an attorney can help you pursue compensation through a personal injury claim.

Tennessee Right of Way Laws for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

According to Tennessee law, pedestrians have the right of way at both marked and unmarked crosswalks. Marked crosswalks have white cross-hatching, and they can be found at intersections or between blocks. Any intersection in Tennessee without white cross-hatching is considered an unmarked crosswalk. When a driver approaches a crosswalk where a pedestrian is in the process of crossing the road, the driver should stop and let the pedestrian pass. Pedestrians also have the right of way when they are coming out of an alley or driveway.

Bicyclists in Tennessee are subject to the same traffic laws as drivers of motor vehicles. This means that they must yield the right of way to other vehicles as they would if they were driving a motor vehicle, but it also means that drivers must yield to them. For example, at a four-way stop or an intersection with a traffic light, bicycles should be treated the same as cars. Drivers who are turning right at an intersection should also take special care not to turn into the path of a bicyclist.

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Anderson County DUI Defense LawyerThe risk of causing injuries or death is the primary reason why drunk driving is treated as such a serious criminal offense in Tennessee and throughout the U.S. When a drunk driver does actually cause an injury or fatality, the consequences they face can be especially severe. However, those who have been charged with a DUI offense involving injury or death do still have rights. An experienced DUI defense attorney can help to protect these rights and ensure that a defendant is treated fairly under the law.

Tennessee DUI Offenses Involving Injury or Death

According to Tennessee law, there are three different criminal offenses that may apply when a drunk driver injures or kills another person. The first of these, known as vehicular assault, occurs when a drunk driver causes serious—but not fatal—bodily injury. Typically, this means that the injuries result in disfigurement or loss of bodily function, or that they pose a substantial risk of death. Vehicular assault is a Class D felony, and an offender can be sentenced to a mandatory minimum incarceration period of 48 hours, along with a longer prison sentence and substantial fines. An offender's license can also be revoked for at least a year, with no possibility of a restricted driver’s license.

If a drunk driver causes a fatality, they can instead be charged with vehicular homicide. This is a Class B felony offense, which may result in a prison sentence of up to 30 years and fines of up to $25,000. A driver who is convicted of vehicular homicide will also have their license revoked for between 3 and 10 years.

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Oakridge Wrongful Death LawyerA fatal car accident can strike at any time, and it is one of the most tragic and shocking experiences that a family may be forced to go through. Coping with the unexpected loss of a loved one can be a lifelong challenge, but it may be possible to obtain financial relief to ease some of the burden through a wrongful death claim. Understanding some of the common factors involved in fatal car wrecks may help you know where to look for evidence of another driver’s negligence, especially if you have an experienced attorney on your side.

Fatal Car Crash Risk Factors

According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 1,135 fatalities in Tennessee motor vehicle accidents in 2019. Data from the State of Tennessee shows that this number increased in 2020, and it is on pace to increase yet again in 2021. Throughout the last few years, some of the most common factors in fatal car accidents have included:

  • Speeding - Traveling at high speeds, especially speeds that are unsafe for the road conditions, increases the risk of a collision with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a stationary object. A vehicle’s speed at the time of impact can also influence the severity of the injuries suffered in the collision.

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Oak Ridge DUI Defense AttorneyIf you have been arrested and charged with DUI, you may feel that you have a poor chance of avoiding conviction and the serious consequences that come with it. It is certainly true that Tennessee prosecutors take DUI cases seriously, and they may have a strong case against you. However, an experienced DUI defense attorney can help you build a strong defense strategy that can stand up to the prosecution.

One important thing to understand about DUI cases is the types of evidence that the prosecution commonly uses to secure a conviction. With this knowledge, you may be better able to protect your rights.

Forms of Evidence in a DUI Case

In order to secure a DUI conviction, the prosecution must have evidence to demonstrate that you are guilty of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors can use many different forms of evidence to support their case, including:

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Jacksboro Personal Injury LawyerWhen a semi-truck overturns on the highway, the driver is far from the only person at risk of being injured. The large size of a truck means that several other vehicles could be caught in the path of a rollover, or be unable to avoid an overturned truck that is obstructing the roadway. If you are injured in a rollover truck accident, it is important to understand the common causes of these crashes as you begin your pursuit of fair compensation.

Semi-Truck Rollovers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regularly maintains statistics regarding large truck accidents for the benefit of research like their Large Truck Crash Causation Study. Data from this study has revealed the following as some of the most common reasons for semi-truck rollover crashes:

  • Excessive speed - This not only includes cases in which the driver exceeded the posted speed limit, but also cases in which the driver was traveling too fast for the specific conditions at the time, including the weather, the road conditions, the size of the truck’s load, or the need to traverse a curve.

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Campbell County DUI Defense AttorneyIf you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Tennessee, you may face serious consequences. However, an arrest does not mean that a conviction is inevitable. You have the right to be represented by a defense attorney who can help you prepare a defense strategy and work to ensure that you are treated fairly. One strategy that could be successful is making the case that your charges should be reduced to reckless driving.

Defining DUI and Reckless Driving

Under Tennessee law, the offense of DUI is defined as driving or being in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant or controlled substance, such as alcohol, marijuana, or another drug. Driving or controlling a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 also meets the legal definition of DUI in Tennessee.

Reckless driving, on the other hand, requires no evidence of alcohol use or intoxication. There are a few specific situations that constitute reckless driving in Tennessee, but in general, a person commits the offense of reckless driving if they operate a motor vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard” for other people or property.

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Jacksboro Personal Injury AttorneyOver the last 10 years, data from the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security indicates that distracted driving is a factor in more than 20,000 annual car accidents throughout the state. Due to the inherent difficulty of detecting driver distraction, it is likely that the actual number is significantly higher. Distractions can make a driver particularly susceptible to causing a rear-end collision, which may result in serious injuries to the occupants of the vehicle in front. If you have been injured in a rear-end collision with a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation.

What Makes Distracted Driving Dangerous?

Using a cell phone while driving is such a prevalent behavior nowadays that it is easy to overlook just how dangerous it can be. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a driver may take their eyes off of the road for up to 5 seconds or more while sending or reading a text message. During this time, a vehicle traveling at 55 mph can cover 100 yards of ground. With this in mind, it is easy to see how a texting driver can cause a rear-end collision, especially if traffic in front of them has slowed or stopped.

However, texting is far from the only distraction that can contribute to a car accident. Many drivers are susceptible to multitasking while behind the wheel, and activities like eating, grooming, attending to child passengers, reaching for an item in the car, or simply adjusting the radio or vehicle controls can take a driver’s hands, eyes, and attention away from the task of driving. A driver could also be distracted by a passenger inside the vehicle or something happening outside of the vehicle.

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Campbell County DUI AttorneyWhen you think of the typical DUI arrest, you most likely envision a situation that begins with a police officer signaling for a moving vehicle to pull over to the side of the road. However, you may have also heard stories of DUI arrests in situations where a person is sitting behind the wheel in a parked car. According to Tennessee law, it is, in fact, possible for a person to be arrested and convicted for DUI even if they were not actively driving at the time they were apprehended. If you find yourself in such a situation, an attorney can help you develop a strong defense strategy.

Tennessee DUI Laws

The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Code makes it clear that a DUI charge may apply in cases other than when a person is driving on a public road. For example, you may be charged with DUI if you are “in physical control” of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance. In addition to public roads and highways, you may be charged with DUI if you are found in an alley or on the premises of an apartment complex or trailer park, a shopping center, or any other place that is frequently visited by the public.

What Evidence Can Justify a DUI Charge?

When law enforcement officers make a DUI arrest of a person in a parked car, they may look at a variety of factors to establish probable cause that a DUI violation has occurred. Of course, they will need some evidence of intoxication, which may come from the officer’s sensory perceptions of the person’s condition, the presence of an open container of alcohol in or near the vehicle, the results of a field sobriety or breathalyzer test, or the person’s own admissions.

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Campbell County Personal Injury AttorneyUnder Tennessee law, if a person is injured in an accident or incident that is caused by another party’s negligence or recklessness, they are entitled to pursue legal action against that party for financial compensation for their medical bills, loss of income, and other expenses associated with the accident. These are referred to as economic damages.

A victim is also able to pursue financial compensation for non-economic damages. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and other long-term or permanent effects the injuries caused in the victim’s life.

While there are no caps on the amount of economic damages a victim can collect, Tennessee is one of only 11 states that does have a cap on the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded. Although there has been an ongoing debate about the fairness of that cap since it was passed in 2011, in a recent ruling the Tennessee Supreme Court has again affirmed the law.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

Campbell County Criminal Defense AttorneyIn July 2020, Virginia became the 16th state in the country to legalize medical marijuana. In April of this year, Virginia lawmakers passed another bill that legalized simple possession of marijuana and limited home growth. That law just went into effect on July 1.

But here in Tennessee, marijuana use--whether recreational or medical-- is still completely banned. Given the changes in Virginia’s law, many law enforcement agencies that border Virginia say they will be on the lookout for an increase in black market activity and an increase in driving under the influence of marijuana, as well as any transporting the drug across state lines.

Tennessee Marijuana Penalties

Tennessee is one of only 14 states that has not yet authorized medical marijuana, despite polls that show more than 80 percent of residents support the measure. The state is also one of only a handful where a conviction for simple possession of pot will result in jail time.

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jacksboro fatal crash lawyerThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released early estimates of crash fatalities from 2020. The estimates show that despite the COVID-19 pandemic keeping Americans off the roads, there was a more than 7 percent increase in the number of victims killed in traffic accidents last year compared to 2019.

2020 Statistics

The NHTSA’s preliminary estimates show that approximately 38,680 victims were killed in traffic accidents in 2020, the highest number of fatalities since 2007. This increase occurred despite the number of vehicle miles traveled decreasing by more than 430.2 billion miles. There was a 9 percent increase in motorcycle fatalities, a 5 percent increase in passenger vehicle fatalities, and a 5 percent increase in cyclist fatalities compared to 2019.

Fatal crashes rose 15 percent on urban highways and 11 percent on local and rural roads. According to the NHTSA’s report, the main causes of this increase include driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, speeding, and failure to wear seat belts. The number of fatal crashes increased significantly during the last two quarters of the year. This time period is also when states begin lifting pandemic restrictions.

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Jacksboro BUI defense lawyerThere is no better place to spend summer than in the state of Tennessee, especially with the abundance of beautiful lakes and state parks Campbell County has to offer. Both residents and visitors to the area have plenty of places to enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and other water activities. Unfortunately, along with those activities often comes the consumption of alcohol. If you are planning on doing any kind of boating, it is important to be aware of the state’s new boating under the influence (BUI) law that recently went into effect.

Boating Under the Influence Law in Tennessee

In Tennessee, if a boat operator has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, that operator is considered over the legal limit, the same BAC applied to someone driving a vehicle. While it has always been illegal to operate a boat while under the influence in Tennessee, the penalties for conviction were not as harsh as those for driving under the influence (DUI). But the new law changes that. In fact, the law, which went into effect July 1, mirrors the state’s drunk driving laws.

Under the prior law, penalties were discretionary, meaning the sentencing judge had latitude. With the new law, all penalties are mandatory:

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