Tennessee DUI: Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve been arrested in Tennessee for DUI. How much time do I have before I need to find a lawyer?

It is imperative to initiate the process of employing a lawyer as quickly as time permits – otherwise, you run the risk of having your Driver’s License revoked as well as losing the fundamental proof needed to achieve success in your DUI case. It is necessary for you to enlist a legal counselor experienced in DUI cases right off the bat to thoroughly analyze and assess the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest. The quicker you are able to discover a DUI legal advisor to widely assess your circumstance, the better opportunity you have of achieving success in your case. 

Is it advisable for me to represent myself in my DUI case?

While you legally can represent yourself, it strongly recommended that you instead seek out legal counsel. In Tennessee, a DUI is considered a criminal offense, which means it’s anything but a run-of-the-mill traffic offense. Many individuals imagine themselves going into a courtroom and playing the role of their own lawyer; time and time again, it becomes evident that they are exploited and end up in far more terrible condition than if they had initially sought consultation with an accomplished lawyer.

More reasoning behind why it is recommended that you not attempt to represent yourself involve the following:

  1. You aren’t a lawyer
  2. You cannot know the full extent of DUI laws in Tennessee
  3. You do not know what would be reasonable and sensible in light of the current situation of your arrest

The court needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. This is an elevated level of verification that simply can’t be achieved without substantial proof. DUI legal advisors know Tennessee’s DUI laws and have the background necessary to go into bargaining a plea in order to diminish your DUI allegation or develop a defense for your case. Additionally, all that you state can and WILL be utilized against you, regardless of whether you are speaking to yourself or conversing with the head prosecutor. 

Will Tennessee courts not just lessen my DUI charge to Reckless Endangerment or Driving?

No. Sadly, numerous individuals live under the presumption that one who has been charged for Driving Under the Influence in Tennessee can have that charge “lessened to Reckless Driving” in the event that it is the first strike. A few people will walk into court with no DUI attorney present anticipating a Reckless Driving charge, and discover that the appointed adjudicator is requiring them to plead guilty to Driving Under the Influence.

Only the expertise of an accomplished DUI lawyer will be able to help in getting a DUI allegation diminished. On the off chance that there are blunders, exclusions, or mix-ups in the administrative paperwork for your DUI, a DUI legal counselor can typically request a deal in DUI cases to an alternate criminal accusation, like Reckless Endangerment. Recruiting an accomplished DUI lawyer directly after your arrest to lead a careful examination concerning your case will significantly build your chances of reducing a DUI. 

Do I Need to Hire a DUI Attorney?

Yes, employing a DUI lawyer to represent your case from the earliest starting point leaves the prosecution with the perception that you are paying serious attention to the severity of your case. Recruit an accomplished DUI lawyer directly following your arrest in order to allow appropriate examination concerning 1) the reasonable justification for the stop, 2) application of the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs), and 3) legitimacy of the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) test. Recruiting a legal counselor from the get-go for the situation offers the lawyer the chance to gather all necessary documentation in preparation for your DUI criminal defense. Having an accomplished DUI lawyer from the beginning essentially improves your odds of winning the DUI case. 

Can I keep driving my car following my DUI arrest?

Yes, you can. Tennessee law does not require any form of administrative suspension on driver’s licenses, and you have the right to drive until an adjudicator has given a court order suspending the license. As a result, it is considered acceptable to keep on driving while the case is still pending. As a general rule, the status of a driver’s license won’t be affected until the legal dispute is finished. In the event that you confess or are seen as liable to DUI or Implied Consent after trial, your adjudicator must suspend your driver’s permit for at least one (1) year; nonetheless, in specific situations, one can acquire a confined driver’s permit for work and/or school. 

Will my Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) be affected by a DUI charge?

It most definitely will. In the event that you have been charged with your first DUI offense will result in the suspension of your CDL for one year.

Once you’ve been charged with a second DUI Offense, you CANNOT have a CDL for the rest of your life.

In finality, if you do hold a CDL, Tennessee does not provide an option for a restricted license on a CDL. 

Will I go to jail if I plead guilty?

Yes, Tennessee law explicitly establishes mandatory minimums on penalties for individual and subsequent DUI charges. The mandated, minimum punishments for DUI’s in Tennessee include the following: 

  • First DUI Offense:
    • 48 hours in prison
    • $350 fine
    • Driver’s license revoked for 1 year 
  • Second DUI Offense:
    • 45 days in prison
    • $600 fine
    • Driver’s license revoked for 2 years 
  • Third DUI Offense:
    • 120 days in prison
    • $1100 fine
    • Driver’s license for 3 years 
  • Fourth DUI Offense:
    • 150 days in prison
    • $2500 fine
    • Driver’s license revoked for 5 years 

A DUI lawyer with experience in Tennessee DUI laws will have the ability to investigate the circumstances surrounding your case in its entirety and create appropriate defenses for your TN DUI. Furthermore, your TN DUI legal counselor will endeavor to request deal for your DUI case to a different, lesser charge and prevent prison time as well as the loss of your driver’s license.

Is a DUI a Felony or Misdemeanor under Tennessee law?

This is dependent on whether this arrest is your first DUI Offense, second DUI Offense, or third DUI Offense, at that point the DUI charge is, under TN DUI law, considered to be a misdemeanor. Nonetheless, for the fourth DUI Offense or more, the offense is considered a felony under TN DUI law. Other felony charges may be accessible under Tennessee law when prosecuting DUI defendants relating to inebriation, for example child endangerment, vehicular assault, and even vehicular homicide.

Will my case be dismissed if my rights were not read to me?

No, the inability to offer the Miranda warning doesn’t provide the possibility of dismissal for DUI cases. As a rule of thumb, the Miranda warning doesn’t become an important factor until an individual is addressed by the authorities while an arrested individual is in custody. All things considered, it is conceivable to have particular statements provided to the police rejected. Speaking with an accomplished DUI lawyer will help you in determining if the statements you provided to the officer had been given in violation of your Miranda Rights. Anything you had spoken to your arresting official without being provided with Miranda warnings can’t be utilized as evidence in a court of law. A competent criminal defense attorney can viably stifle any statements made in violation of your Miranda warning. 

Am I required to take the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)?

No, under Tennessee DUI law, you do NOT have to partake in Field Sobriety Tests. The second a law enforcement official pulls you over, they are gathering evidence which they can use against you in a court of law in order to prove that you were inebriated by alcohol or drugs.

Generally, there are three standard field sobriety tests which are utilized in Tennessee: 1) One-Leg Stand, 2) Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), and 3) Walk and Turn. Such FSTs are what is known as divided attention tests, which are intended to cause an individual who is affected by alcohol or medications to fail.

On the off chance that you have gone through these voluntary exams and perform inadequately, the odds of coming out on top of your DUI case is very slim. Also, there are no lawful obligations for an officer to advise you of your right to decline the FSTs. 

Are the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) always considered valid?

Not always, there have been various studies conducted regarding the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) which your DUI attorney may utilize to build a solid defense for you in court. The primary FSTs are only considered a substantial indicator of inebriation if they are administered under particular necessary conditions as per the standards laid out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. FSTs are troublesome because they aren’t actually scientific examinations; in the end, they are recorded exclusively dependent on the subjective opinion of the arresting officer. FSTs may be placed under scrutiny and at times entirely excluded as viable evidence in trial, depending on the accompanying factors: 

  • FSTs are considered conclusive only if the appropriate guidelines were given prior to the test having began;
  • FSTs are a conclusive indicator of inebriation only if conducted as per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines;
  • FSTs will NOT be considered valid if an individual has specific deformities or injuries; 
  • FSTs will NOT be considered valid if the test was not scored in accordance with standardized objective grading process; 
  • FSTs will only be considered valid if the environment and conditions were appropriate; 

Do I have the right to refuse a BAC Test?

Yes; be that as it may, there are legal ramifications for declining to submit to a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) test.

In Tennessee, it’s considered a privilege to hold a valid driver’s license; accordingly, by receiving such a privilege, you consent to providing a sample to have your BAC tested whenever requested by a police officer. And, while you do have the right as a respondent NOT to submit a sample for testing BAC, the inability to do so is an infringement of Tennessee Implied Consent Law.

That’s why it’s so critical to be wary when making the decision to submit to a Blood Alcohol Concentration test or not on the grounds that declining to submit a sample can lead to your driver’s license being suspended in accordance with the Implied Consent Law for an entire year.

Typically, an experienced DUI attorney will by and large tell clients NOT to provide a submission to BAC testing on the off chance that they are heavily intoxicated; as an Implied Consent infringement doesn’t include obligatory prison time and fines, which are involved in a DUI conviction. 

Am I allowed to consult with a DUI attorney before submitting to a BAC test?

No. As of right now under current Tennessee DUI law, in the event that you have been pulled over by an official who requests that you submit to a substance test to determine your BAC, you don’t reserve the ability to consult with a DUI attorney before providing a sample.

This specific law is primarily based on older case laws, when barely any individuals had cellular devices, and the only way to find an adequate DUI attorney was by flipping through the yellow pages. Presently, however, when nearly everybody has a smart phone and can put a quick search into Google to find the best Nashville DUI Attorneys in mere seconds, a court may potentially decide that an officer’s inability to permit a fast call to their DUI legal advisor for counsel before submitting a sample could prompt the dismissal of the BAC result.

Am I allowed to have my own Blood Alcohol Concentration test taken?

Yes. On the off chance that you have been pulled over for Driving Under the Influence, the arresting officer picks the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) test; nonetheless, you do have the right to request a different test, but it will be at your expense. The inability of the officer to permit you to acquire your own choice BAC test may result in an exclusion of the BAC acquired by the official. Curiously enough, the officer isn’t required by law to reveal to you that you have the option to request your own BAC test, nor is the official needed to provide you any information with respect to where you can acquire your own BAC test. 

What is a Tennessee Implied Consent Violation?

A Tennessee Implied Consent Violation is a charge one can receive for being stopped by the police, asked to present a sample for BAC testing, and refusing to submit a sample for testing. Such Infringement of Tennessee’s Implied Consent Law brings about your driver’s license’s suspension for a time amounting to one year. Additionally, you may be charged for both Implied Consent violation and DUI in the event that the officer believes you are responsible for Driving Under the Influence even without acquiring any BAC results. 

What is Driving While Impaired (DWI)?

In the past, both DWIs and DUIs were interchangeable. However, Tennessee law distinguishes that the qualification for a DWI will become a DUI solely dependent upon the individual’s age who is being placed under arrest. In Tennessee, a DWI alludes to drivers younger than 21, and may additionally be referred to in Tennessee as Underage DWI

How long will DUI charge stay on my criminal record if I plead guilty?

A DUI will remain permanently on your criminal record. When you concede guilt to DUI, it turns into a permanent conviction to on your record for the rest of your life. As of right now, Tennessee DUI accusations can never be removed from your criminal record. However, under Tennessee law, DUI charges which have been dismissed as well as a few substitute charges can be removed or expunged from your criminal record. Therefore, it is our recommendation that you only ever plead guilty to a DUI charge once you have consulted with an accomplished DUI lawyer who has thoroughly examined your case’s circumstances and determined the evidence is significant.