If you’re facing DUI charges in Tennessee, you might be wondering whether it’s possible to have your case dismissed. This comprehensive blog post will explain the basics of Tennessee DUI law, discuss potential grounds for dismissal, and highlight the role of DUI defense attorneys in this process. Additionally, we’ll outline effective strategies for building a robust DUI defense and demonstrate how the team at Barnes & Fersten can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Understanding DUI Charges in Tennessee
DUI, or driving under the influence, occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. In Tennessee, you can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04%, and for drivers under the age of 21, it’s 0.02%.
Penalties for DUI convictions in Tennessee can be severe and may include fines, license suspension or revocation, mandatory alcohol education or treatment programs, and even jail time. The severity of penalties typically increases with the number of prior DUI convictions. Given the potentially life-altering consequences of a DUI conviction, it’s vital to have skilled legal representation on your side. An experienced DUI defense attorney will not only guide you through the complexities of Tennessee DUI law but also explore various grounds for dismissal to provide the best possible defense.
Grounds for DUI Dismissal: Is It Possible?
While getting a DUI case dismissed in Tennessee can be challenging, it’s not impossible. Here are some potential grounds for dismissal that a DUI defense attorney may use to build a strong defense:
- Lack of reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause: Law enforcement officers must have a valid reason, or reasonable suspicion, to initiate a traffic stop. If they didn’t have sufficient reason to pull you over, any evidence collected during the stop may be deemed inadmissible in court, which could lead to a dismissal. For example, an officer may have stopped you for making a wide turn, which does not violate any traffic laws and therefore does not provide the officer reason to pull you over. Similarly, officers routinely pull vehicles over for failure to maintain their lane when the motorists’ wheel touches the fog line or lane line, but the law requires crossing the line, mere touching of the lane line does not provide an officer reason to pull your vehicle over. A skilled attorney can argue that the initial stop was unjustified and move to suppress any evidence gathered during the stop. Our lawyers have successfully gotten countless cases dismissed or reduced through arguing such motions at hearings and during negotiations with prosecutors.
- Inaccurate field sobriety tests: Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are designed to assess a person’s level of impairment. However, they’re not foolproof and can be influenced by factors such as fatigue, nervousness, or physical disabilities. An experienced DUI attorney can challenge the reliability of FST results by highlighting factors that may have impacted the test results, like uneven pavement or poor lighting conditions. By casting doubt on the accuracy of the FSTs, the attorney can potentially weaken the prosecution’s case and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
- Faulty breathalyzer results: Breathalyzer tests measure BAC to determine if a person is over the legal limit. However, these tests can be affected by factors such as calibration errors, improper administration, or interfering substances. A knowledgeable DUI attorney can scrutinize the breathalyzer results by investigating the device’s maintenance records, questioning the officer’s training in administering the test, or presenting evidence of factors that could have led to a false positive result, such as mouthwash or certain medications. Successfully challenging the accuracy of breathalyzer results may help in reducing DUI charges in Tennessee or even lead to a dismissal.
- Violation of constitutional rights: If your constitutional rights (such as your right to remain silent or your right to counsel) were violated during your arrest, your attorney may be able to argue for a dismissal. For example, if the arresting officer failed to read you your Miranda rights or continued to question you after you requested an attorney, your attorney can argue that any statements you made should be suppressed. Similarly, if you were not allowed to contact an attorney within a reasonable time or were subjected to an unlawful search, your attorney can use these violations to argue for a dismissal or suppression of evidence.
The Role of DUI Defense Attorneys
A DUI defense attorney can play a crucial role in fighting your case and increasing your chances of dismissal. They can:
- Analyze and challenge the evidence: A skilled attorney will meticulously review the evidence, including police reports, witness statements, and test results. They will identify any inconsistencies or inaccuracies that could weaken the prosecution’s case, such as unreliable field sobriety test results or inaccurate breathalyzer readings. By challenging the evidence, your attorney can create reasonable doubt and strengthen your defense.
- Negotiate with the prosecution: In some cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal that reduces the charges or penalties you face. This could involve pleading to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving, or agreeing to complete a treatment program in exchange for a reduced sentence. A skilled attorney knows when to negotiate and how to advocate on your behalf to secure the most favorable outcome possible.
- Present a compelling argument in court: If your case goes to trial, your attorney will use their expertise and knowledge of Tennessee DUI law to present a persuasive argument that casts doubt on the prosecution’s case. They can challenge the prosecution’s evidence, present alternative explanations for your behavior or test results, and bring in expert witnesses to support your defense. An experienced DUI attorney knows how to effectively communicate with the judge and jury, increasing the likelihood of a favorable verdict.
Strategies for Building a Strong DUI Defense in Tennessee
In addition to the potential grounds for dismissal discussed earlier, a skilled DUI attorney can employ various strategies to build a robust defense for your case:
- Demonstrating inconsistencies: Your attorney can identify inconsistencies in the arresting officer’s testimony, police reports, or other evidence to create reasonable doubt. This might include discrepancies between the officer’s testimony and the dashcam or bodycam footage, contradictions in the officer’s statements, or conflicts between witness accounts and the prosecution’s version of events.
- Presenting alternative explanations: In some cases, there may be a plausible explanation for your behavior or the results of the tests that doesn’t involve intoxication. A skilled DUI attorney can present these alternative explanations to the court, further weakening the prosecution’s case. For example, an attorney might argue that your poor performance on a field sobriety test was due to a medical condition, fatigue, or even poor weather conditions, rather than intoxication.
- Highlighting mitigating factors: Your DUI attorney can emphasize mitigating factors that may help sway the court in your favor. These could include a clean driving record, community service, or voluntary participation in alcohol education programs.
How Barnes & Fersten Can Help Your Defense
While getting a DUI case dismissed in Tennessee is not guaranteed, it is possible under the right circumstances. With the help of experienced and skilled DUI defense attorneys like those at Barnes & Fersten, you can fight for the best possible outcome. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling DUI cases and are well-versed in Tennessee DUI law. We take pride in our ability to successfully challenge evidence, negotiate with the prosecution, and present compelling arguments in court.
Contact Barnes & Fersten today to review your case and explore your options. Our team of dedicated attorneys will work tirelessly to protect your rights and help you move forward with your life. If you’re searching for experienced DUI attorneys in Tennessee or want to know more about how to fight a DUI charge in Tennessee, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Call us now at (865) 805-5703 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation. Let us help you navigate the complex world of Tennessee DUI law and work towards a successful resolution for your case.
Attorney At Law, Managing Partner
Brandon D. Fersten is an esteemed Knoxville attorney practicing DUI, criminal defense, and juvenile law. Known for his empathetic approach and commitment to his clients, he brings a record of favorable case outcomes including dismissals and not guilty verdicts at jury trials resulting in Brandon being recognized as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in Criminal Defense, U.S. News’ Best Lawyers: “Ones to Watch,” and Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars”. Brandon’s professional accolades, combined with his passion for justice, position him as a reliable criminal defense advocate in the East Tennessee legal landscape.