Online Exclusive

Tenn. Driver Booked on DUI Charges for 10th Time


Authorities said they had to throw spikes down on the road to stop a suspected drunken driver who wouldn't pull over.

Police learned once he stopped he'd been in that position many times before: This was his 10th DUI stop, Sgt. Dan Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office said. And new, stronger laws against repeat DUI offenders won't apply to him.

James Michael Morris has been in and out of the Rutherford County Jail since 1989. He was arrested again Memorial Day. Morris refused to stop for deputies, even speeding up, all the while he was weaving all over the road, Goodwin said.

Deputies stopped him by throwing out spike strips at the corner of Dilton Mankin Road and Bradyville Pike and flattened two of his tires.

"He went another half-mile before pulling over," Goodwin said.

"We put them in jail, but we can't keep them in jail; they are going to get out sometime," said Bill Whitesell, Rutherford County district attorney general.

Whitesell couldn't comment on Morris' case, but he said all repeat DUI offenders need longer sentences.

"To me, they are as dangerous as a loaded gun just waiting to go off and kill somebody," Whitesell said.

That's why state lawmakers passed several bills this session toughening the penalties for DUI offenses, including revoking driver's licenses for five years instead of three for a third DUI and eight years for a fourth or more DUI instead of six years.

A mandatory blood alcohol test for people previously convicted of DUI was also enacted. The laws haven't gone into effect, so they wouldn't apply Morris if he is convicted.

"They seriously have problems, so I think that's why we tweaked the law this year and took it from six to eight offenses to try and make it tougher," said Sen. Bill Ketron.

Authorities said they hope this time, the courts will make an example of Morris and enhance his time in jail.

Morris was released from jail less than five hours after being booked. However, he has to wear a SCRAM device, which his probation officer can check to see if he has consumed alcohol. One of the new DUI laws doesn't go into effect until July, the other one in January of next year.

Copyright 2011 by All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.