Tennessee Court Monitoring Report 2022

MADD’s Court Monitoring Program enlists court monitors to observe and document what happens in the courtroom during impaired driving case proceedings. The program was created to ensure that impaired driving offenders are prosecuted and justice is achieved. Court monitoring is a tool proven to affect the adjudication process and is recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as an effective countermeasure to reduce impaired driving (1). Court monitors on the local scale can impact the handling of impaired driving cases by their mere presence in the court room.

Court monitoring is intended to enhance transparency and accountability within the criminal justice system and reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses. One way this goal is achieved is by sharing data and observations with law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, and the public to promote awareness of impaired driving and ensure accountability for all impaired driving offenders. To reduce future offenses, MADD® supports swift and unbiased treatment of all impaired driving cases. Court monitors track misdemeanor impaired driving cases in the judicial courts of their respective counties. Court monitors are often physically present for court settings and acquire case information from courtroom observation and, when necessary, from researching online databases. The data is then entered into the MADD National Court Monitoring Database for reporting purposes. The information presented in this report is from cases monitored in 2021.

The Tennessee Court Monitoring Program monitored cases in 5 counties: Davison, Rutherford, Shelby, Summer and Wilson.

Case Disposition DUI

Tennessee State Report (reporting period: 1/1/2021 – 12/31/2021)

Where disposition is known.



This report is designed to present observations and trends relative to the counties monitored and is not intended to be a statistical analysis.



Pending Cases Monitored* | 470 | 33.5% Adjudicated Cases Monitored | 933 | 66.5% Total Cases Monitored in 2021 | 1403 *pending cases are cases waiting for a judgement








*An amended disposition means the charge was either amended to a lesser charge (such as Reckless Driving) or amended to a higher charge (less common) **Bound Over means the court has found probable cause to charge the defendant with a felony. Once this is done, the case essentially starts over at the Circuit Court level and stays there through sentencing.

by County Dispositions Where disposition is known by county.



Bound Over












Shelby County has been omitted due to all cases currently being open/pending.

Disposition data showed that:

Guilty adjudications represent 53% of all closed cases during 2021. Amended cases which represent 22% of all closed cases.

Amended cases included lesser DUIs, Reckless Driving, and Reckless Endangerment. Of the cases that were amended to lesser DUIs, the mandatory minimums were met for that lesser DUI. Of adjudicated cases in 2021 Bound Over dispositions represented 15% of total cases. Dismissed cases represent 5% of total cases. Other, which includes multiple dispositions, represents 5% of total cases. These dispositions include Nolle Prosequi (19 cases), Deferred Prosecution (7 cases), Amended To Misdemeanor (5 cases), Not Guilty (3 cases), Disposition Sealed (3 cases) and Plea Deal (2 cases). Nolle Prosequi: A formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit or action.

By County Average Case Age

Where case age is known.













Case Age: The number of days between the start and close/adjudication of a case.

Based on data from 2021, the longest case was 2,862 days where the offender’s case was Amended from a DUI under 18 to a 1st DUI offense. The shortest case in 2021 was 11 days where the offender’s case was Bound Over on a 4th DUI. Throughout 2021, MADD Tennessee was able to determine from our data that as courtrooms across the state beginning to open, overall ages of cases trended downward. This is a positive trend as the longer a case moves through the judicial system the more likelihood of dismissal or amendment to charges.

Convictions Previous DUI Where previous conviction is known.

Unknown 6th Offense 5th Offense 4th Offense 3rd Offense 2nd Offense No Previous Recorded DUIs

5 2












Based on data collected from 2021, the following observations on recidivism rate for DUI offenders shows that of Previous DUI Conviction cases: Second offenses represent 11% Third offenses represent 4% Fourth offenses represent 1% Fifth offenses represent <1% Unknown represent <1%. Unknown includes other types of DUI charges (Under 18 and Driving while Impaired [18-20]) where previous charges are not accessible. From 2020 to 2021 Second offenses trended down by 2%. Third offense remained at a similar percentage. and fourth offenses trended down by 1%.

Key Findings & Observations

Tennessee reestablished its formal Court Monitoring program in 2019. MADD staff and volunteers have monitored 1403 cases 2021 through funding made available by the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.

In 2021, MADD Tennessee continued to monitor all counties, with the exception of Shelby, by utilizing the Tennessee Public Court Records System and/or the counties clerk website. During this time period, courts were closed to the public due to the pandemic. MADD Tennessee continued to monitor cases in Shelby County virtually through the Zoom platform provided to us by the Shelby County District Attorney. Court Monitoring staff and volunteers collected specific information on cases stemming from DUI arrests in court hearings and through case research online. MADD Tennessee also held multiple meetings with informed individuals within the enforcement and prosecution communities to assist with interpretation and context.

Based on the case information collected and tracked by MADD court monitors in 2021, the following overall observations were presented:

As restrictions from the Covid-19 began to lift throughout 2021, MADD Tennessee was able to monitor considerably more cases. In 2020, we monitored 780 cases. This was an increase of 52%. In the 2021 year, 1,403 cases were monitored. 470 cases currently have a pending outcome. These cases are likely pending due to the courts being backlogged because of the COVID-19 pandemic, continuances, and/or capias warrants being issued for offenders to appear in court. MADD Tennessee continues to monitor courts across the state; we will continue to move toward more in person monitoring as well as continue to train MADD Court Monitoring volunteers. IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN AFFECTED BY DRUNK OR DRUG-IMPAIRED DRIVING, MADD IS HERE TO HELP. CALL OUR VICTIM/SURVIVOR 24-HOUR HELPLINE AT 877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435). that law enforcement is the most effective method to stop drunk and impaired driving instances. for support of high visibility law enforcement. for mobilization with community partners to increase awareness about the continuing devastating consequences of drunk and impaired driving. for cases to be heard on their merits and not dismissed prematurely, which prevents the use of ignition interlocks; and for compliance with statutory requirements, which stipulate to the installation of ignition interlock devices in all vehicles driven by offenders. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reiterates its position:

(1) Richard, C. M., Magee, K., Bacon-Abdelmoteleb, P., & Brown, J. L. (2018, April). Countermeasures that work: A highway safety countermeasure guide for State Highway Safety Offices, Ninth edition (Report No. DOT HS 812 478). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Driving a vehicle while impaired is a dangerous crime, yet continues to happen across the United States. Each year, about 1 million individuals are arrested. What happens after those arrests depends on the criminal justice system. As a MADD court monitor, you can get the insider’s perspective on the judicial system while making a vital contribution to your local community. Your presence in court and the data you collect will help make sure our laws are upheld and the criminal justice system does what it is intended to do: Keep us safe. Court monitors achieve the work of MADD’s Court Monitoring Program by doing the following: Remind law enforcement that MADD wants to see their cases prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law

Track conviction rates and sanctions

Identify trends in offender age, gender, and blood alcohol concentration level

Track conviction rates and sanctions

Promote public awareness and understanding of the dangers of impaired driving

For more information about court monitoring efforts in your state, please visit madd.org/courts to learn more about the program and the availability to volunteer.

For more information about volunteering in Tennessee, please visit madd.org/Tennessee.

Tennessee State Office 53 Century Boulevard Suite 100 Nashville, Tennessee 37214 tn.state@madd.org

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