Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can lead to severe penalties, including jail time, fines, and license suspension. Knowing what to do if you’re pulled over for DUI in Tennessee is crucial to protecting your rights and potentially reducing the impact on your life. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to take if you’re pulled over for DUI in Tennessee, helping you make the best decisions to defend yourself in court.
Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
If you’ve consumed any alcohol, taken any drugs (illegal or prescription) that make you feel impaired, or think you might be under the influence, it’s essential to exercise your right to remain silent during a DUI stop. While it’s important to comply with the officer’s basic requests, such as providing your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information, we recommend speaking as little as possible otherwise. You have an absolute right to remain silent and not provide the State with additional evidence against you.
Additionally, the more you speak, the more likely the officer may believe your speech is slurred and attempt to use as evidence in your DUI case. Moreover, the officer may ask incriminating questions, such as how much you have had to drink or whether you feel impaired. Any answers to these questions will provide more evidence for the state to use against you to convict you of DUI. Limit your conversation to minimize the evidence the state can use against you.
Voluntary Nature Of Field Sobriety Tests
During a DUI stop, you may be asked to perform standardized field sobriety tests. It’s important to know that these tests are fully voluntary, and there are no direct consequences for refusing to complete them. Although the officer may make you think it’s not a voluntary test, it is fully voluntary, and in most instances, it’s a good idea not to complete the test. You will likely be arrested immediately upon your refusal (or multiple refusals if the officer keeps pushing you to complete the test), but in most cases, it’s better to be arrested and charged with DUI and getting the case dismissed or reduced without the mandatory jail time and loss of license than being convicted of DUI.
Studies have shown a false positive rate of 27% on standardized field sobriety testing, meaning individuals with a blood alcohol content below 0.10% failed those tests despite not being too impaired to drive. Numerous factors influence the validity of these tests and your performance on them, but officers will only attribute one factor to your performance: impairment. Avoid giving the state additional evidence to convict you of DUI by refusing these tests and limiting your interaction with the officer.
Consider The Implications of Blood or Breath Samples
In Tennessee, the implied consent law requires drivers to submit to a blood or breath test if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe they are under the influence. Refusing to provide a sample can result in license suspension and other penalties. However, there are numerous issues related to the admissibility and reliability of these tests in court. Our attorneys will question the validity of these results whenever possible.
The state’s job becomes much more difficult if they do not have blood or breath test results. Convicting you beyond a reasonable doubt is harder when the only evidence is body camera footage, especially if there’s an alternative reason for your driving or behavior, such as a medical condition. By carefully considering the implications of providing blood or breath samples, you make it more challenging for the state to convict you of DUI.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
Navigating a DUI stop in Tennessee can be a challenging experience, but staying informed and understanding your rights can help protect you against potential consequences. Remember to remain silent as much as possible, understand that standardized field sobriety tests are fully voluntary, and consider the implications of providing blood or breath samples.
It’s important to consult with experienced DUI defense attorneys to help you navigate the complexities of DUI law in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you find yourself facing a DUI charge, don’t hesitate to reach out to Barnes & Fersten for expert guidance and representation. Our team of dedicated professionals is committed to fighting for your rights and working tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us today for a consultation and let us help you get back on track.
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.