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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (DUI)

Posted by Mark W. Litchford | Jun 08, 2019 | 0 Comments

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Being arrested and charged for driving under the influence does not mean one is guilty of such an offense and individuals wrongly burdened with a false DUI arrest need an attorney with the skills, knowledge, training, tools, resources, and strategies that are needed to successfully resolve and win DUI cases.  Attorneys at Litchford, Pearce & Associates, PLLC, have completed the same National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) certifications for DUI assessments that police undergo.  Additionally, our attorneys have been admitted into the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, a nationwide organization of members who are recognized as having achieved advanced level training on the strategies that result in the successful resolution for defendants charged with driving under the influence.  We know individuals charged with DUI or inquiring about DUI requirements have several questions.  Below are a few questions that we answer.  Check back regularly for additional DUI information.  Also, if you have been charged with DUI or have questions, we encourage you to contact us at 423-529-5290 or send an email to [email protected] to schedule a free consultation. 

 

  1. Do I have to answer the officer's questions?

No.  You have the right to remain silent and not answer questions.  However, you do not have a right to the advice of a DUI attorney prior to submitting to any field sobriety test or chemical test.  It is recommended that you act respectful in all aspects of your interaction with police and remember that most traffic stops are video recorded with audio captured on police body camera. 

  1. Do I have to agree to perform Field Sobriety Tests?

The short answer is no, but such refusal may be used against you.  Understand that immediately when an officer pulls you over, the officer is attempting to collect evidence to use against you.  The initial contact generally entails the officer attempting to ask compound questions for the purpose of distracting you.  Sample questions may be “Please present your license, registration and insurance and what have you been doing tonight?”  The entire time the officer is detecting how you handle the compound questions and follow directions.  After the initial contact, the officer will engage you in a series of FST. There are essentially three standard field sobriety tests (FST) used in Tennessee: (1) One-legged Stand, (2) Walk and Turn, and (3) Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.  Again, the FST focus on divided attention designed for failure if the officer detects six clues.  These clues are as simple as not standing still with your arms to your side instead of crossed or failing to stand exactly where an officer directs.  You are permitted to refuse FST which may be the proper decision in an effort to prevent the state from obtaining incriminating evidenced from tests that are designed to fail even if you are 100% sober.  Most DUI traffic stops are video recorded and we are entitled to demand a copy in preparation to defend your case.   

  1. If I refuse to take a breath test or give blood, will I lose my license and how does it affect my case?

There are two methods by which law enforcement officers attempt to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC):  (1) breathalyzer and (2) blood draw.  Generally, you are first requested to submit to a breathalyzer.  If you refuse, then the officer can charge you with violation of implied consent.  In Tennessee, anyone who drives in the state on public roadways has given “implied consent” to submit to a chemical test for intoxication.  If you refuse, you are facing a license suspension for one year, even if you later plead to a reduced charge or get your charge dismissed.  However, in most cases we can help you apply for a restricted license through the Tennessee Department of Safety.  Note, however, that an Implied Consent violation does not involve mandatory jail time and fine as required for a DUI conviction.  With regard to a blood draw, you are permitted to refuse a blood draw and you cannot be charged with violation of implied consent.  However, officers can seek a warrant to obtain your blood.  In this case, a judge or magistrate has to make a positive finding of probable cause in order to execute the search warrant. 

  1. What BAC is considered failing in Tennessee?

A BAC of .08% or more gives rise to a presumption of intoxication which is often perceived as being irrefutable proof of impaired driving.  However, there are several ways to attack this presumption.  First and foremost, if you submitted to a blood draw, you are entitled to request a separate test.  The failure of the police or the state to allow you to obtain your own BAC results could result in exclusion of your BAC in your court proceedings.  Additionally, blood results are not always handled correctly, and laboratories have been discovered to breach their own handling procedures.  If your BAC was detected by breathalyzer, it is important to evaluate the calibration of the machine.  Breathalyzers are required to be updated and maintained properly and these machines have been known to provide false results.  That is why if you are charged with DUI, it is important for you to consult with one of our attorneys as soon as possible in an effort to allow us to investigate, obtain and preserve helpful evidence. 

  1. Will you go to jail for DUI and what are other penalties?

If you are convicted for DUI, Tennessee law mandates a minimum of 48 hours in jail for first time offenders.  Second and third time offenders face longer minimum jail sentences of 45 days and 120 days, respectively.  Additionally, mandatory fines range from $350 to $1,500 for first time offenders to $1,100 to $10,000 for third time offenders.  You will lose your license for a minimum of one year and be required to participate in Alcohol and Drug Treatment programs and install an Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle at your expense.  Also, Tennessee law mandates that a DUI conviction stay on your record permanently.  While many misdemeanor and felonies can be expunged, Misdemeanor DUIs cannot be expunged.  That is why contacting an attorney is so important and you should never plead guilty to a DUI without having first consulted with an attorney to review your case. 

  1. Are attorneys actually helpful with your case?

Yes, absolutely.  The key is finding an attorney that is knowledgeable and experienced and with whom you are comfortable handling your case.  While it is impossible to guarantee results, it is imperative that you obtain an attorney that asks questions and is honest with the evaluation of your case.   At Litchford, Pearce & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys have represented clients for over 10 years and have received recognition by the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, a nationwide organization of members, as having achieved advanced level training on the strategies that result in the successful resolution for defendants charged with driving under the influence.  We recognize that being charged with DUI and navigating the judicial process can be daunting at the very least.  A DUI conviction is permanent on your record and can never be removed or expunged.  Tennessee law does permit DUI charges to be reduced and possibly expunged. Therefore, it is imperative for you to consult an attorney as soon as possible.    

Schedule a free consultation:         423-529-5290

                                                           [email protected]

About the Author

Mark W. Litchford

Mark W. Litchford, Esq. Director LICENSED IN TENNESSEE & GEORGIA

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