DeSoto County leaders work on DUI loophole - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Chip Washington

DeSoto County leaders work on DUI loophole

DESOTO COUNTY, MS (WMC-TV) - DeSoto County leaders want to capture more DUI offenders, and they say enforcing a law already on the books is the way to do it. There is a catch. In order for Paramedics to enforce the law, they would be violating their own laws.

There are actually two state laws covering the particular issue and lawmakers in DeSoto County are trying to bring some clarity to a very confusing situation.

For EMS officials in DeSoto County, the rules governing whether they can take blood from a person suspected of DUI are clear and very confusing at the same time.

"We have two laws that are on the books that one says we will draw blood, one says we won't draw blood so the paramedics are hung in the middle," Tim Curtis of the DeSoto County EMS said.

One law states paramedics can draw blood at the scene of a DUI related accident if requested by law enforcement. The other code is a state health department regulation that says paramedics can draw blood at the scene, but only for diagnostic use by a hospital lab in Tennessee.

The statute for Mississippi does not cover the officer going into a Tennessee facility and asking for the blood to be drawn, so there has to be a court order. Meaning DUI accident victims must be transported to Memphis since there is no trauma hospital facility in Northwest Mississippi.

Enter the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors, who want the laws clarified to minimize the wait time at an accident scene.

"All were asking for is anytime there's a suspicion of a police officer that there is an influence issue in an accident, we would like the blood to be taken before they're sent to the hospital," DeSoto County Supervisor Bill Russell said.

DeSoto County officials said they have asked for the law clarification for the past few years, but that the issue winds up dying in committee. They vow to keep the issue alive until something is done about it.


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