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When DUI does not involve alcohol

When most people hear DUI, they think drunk driving caused by alcohol impairment. And for most cases, that is the most likely cause, but the statutory language is driving under the influence. Alcohol is not the only cause of impairment that can lead to a DUI charge.

A case involving a woman who was involved in a car accident in Jefferson City, just to the north of Knoxville, is a good example of the other potential causes of impairment.

The crash, which occurred on September 4, 2013, a woman pulled into the path of another vehicle. The police officer reported that the one woman appeared "disoriented and was unable to answer his questions."

She was taken by helicopter to UT Hospital Knoxville. Her injuries were apparently minor as she was treated and released, but the officer suspected she was an impaired driver and had her blood drawn for an alcohol and drug test.

The first report from the crime lab in November of last year found that she did not have alcohol in her blood. However, they released another report in this summer, and it found she had multiple prescription drugs in her system, including Diazapam, Nordiazapam, Oxazepam and Temazepam.

The statute of limitations for a DUI in Tennessee is 12 months, so it is significant that they filed on September 4 of this year. Had they waited another day, the statute would have barred the charges.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in Tennessee and it is unfortunate that more motorists may be at risk to drivers impaired by these medications. It also points to the importance of comprehensive testing for impairing chemicals of any driver involved in a car accident.

Standardbanner.com, "DUI charges filed against woman in year-old wreck," Dale Gentry, September 4, 2014

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