On June 27, 2000, Jackson was arrested and charged with drunk driving following a traffic accident in the parking lot of Vinnie T's bar, 221 E. 8th St. Jackson refused to take a test to determine whether he was drunk, but Police Officer Scott Polston stated in his written report that he "noted an intoxicating smell about Mr. Jackson's breath." Click here to see the arrest report .
Circuit Court Clerk Lewis Coomer's office says records show that on April 27, 2001, Jackson pleaded guilty to reckless driving in the matter. An employee in the office said in a telephone interview that Judge John J. Maddux Jr. sentenced the 61-year-old Jackson, a former Cookeville mayor, to six months' probation, 40 hours of community service and loss of driving privileges for one year. The clerk's office also says Maddux fined Jackson $500. Coomer's office said the fine and court costs have not been paid.
The drunk driving charge against Jackson was apparently rescinded by the prosecutor, Coomer's office said, and the employee said the cover of the file did not explain whether a new charge was filed.
In 1999, Tennessee traffic fatalities rose six percent over the previous year to 1,285. Tennessee ranks eighth in the nation in traffic fatalities, and the number has been rising over the past 15 years. In 1999, nearly 40 percent of all Tennessee traffic fatalities involved alcohol.
While everyone should be presumed innocent until proved guilty, Jackson refused to take a test to show he was not drunk.
According to the Tennessee Bar Association - lawyers, not tavern owners - the court may deal with a person charged with refusing or failing to take the test, by suspending driving privileges for six(6) months after a hearing on a charge of Violation of Implied Consent. In a hearing like this, the officer is concerned with two major issues: First, was there reasonable ground to believe that the driver was driving while intoxicated or drugged, and second, did the driver refuse to submit to the test when requested?
"If you have refused to take the test, your license may be suspended even if you are later found innocent of the 'Driving While Intoxicated' charge."
This was Jackson's second arrest in recent years for alcohol-related accidents. Prosecutors dropped charges after a 1995 accident.
In all fairness to Jackson, any information
obtained from Coomer's office is suspect. The Putnam Pit has reported that
records in Coomer's custody have been doctored. In one case, a
grand jury indictment was altered to make it appear that a charge was
pending that in fact was not; in other cases, jail inmates were illegally
billed by Coomer's office for per diem costs which Coomer collected
and entered into his computer system using accounting
software that allowed the entries to later be changed without leaving