DUI offenders allowed to walk with out bond conditions

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – There are tools like random drug and alcohol tests and ignition interlocks designed to keep innocent people safe from impaired drivers, but News4 has learned that in many cases DUI offenders are being let go without them.

The latest case happened at the corner of Lebanon Pike and Shute Lane in the Hermitage area.

Police said 20-year-old Ethan Harris was drunk behind the wheel of his dad’s BMW when he crashed, flew into the air and landed on 60-year-old James Gable, who died.

“The victim’s family has a hold that will never, ever be repaired that will last forever,” said Nashville prosecutor Laney Heard.

After paying $4,000, Harris bonded out that night. The magistrate let him walk without an interlock device, mandatory random drug and alcohol testing or any other bond condition even though Tennessee law says the court “shall consider them.”

“I think it’s an injustice, and I think it’s dangerous to our community,” said Heard.

Heard said she sees it all the time.

“I mean, I would think, somebody who was alleged to have just killed somebody using drugs or alcohol, it would be in the interest of the community at large to make sure that they were not continuing to use drugs or alcohol,” said Heard.

Heard is now calling for change.

“I would like to see the magistrates all basically get on the same page and follow the conditions set forth in the law,” said Heard.

News4 reached out to the Davidson County court administrator about the issue. Presiding judge John Holt hadn’t heard about the issue until now.

When they contacted the magistrate who let Harris walk, Carolyn Pithus, she was off and out of state.

Meanwhile Heard said she’s doing what she can to keep people safe: filing a motion asking for bond conditions for Harris.

“What happens if someone who is on bond then victimizes somebody else’s family,” said Heard.

Harris’ attorney was unavailable for comment. Harris is due back in court on Monday.