As a motorist, one of the last things you want to see is flashing lights in your rearview mirror – especially if you had a drink (or two) before you got behind the wheel. If that did happen to you, and you are now facing criminal charges for driving under the influence, you would certainly be wise to be concerned about the outcome of your case and how it will impact your future. If this is your first brush with the criminal justice system, you are also likely unsure of what to expect and filled with questions about the process in general and your case specifically. The only way to get answers to specific questions regarding your case is to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney. There are, however, some commonly asked general questions that defendants in a DUI case often ask. A Smyrna DUI attorney has provided answer to five of the most frequently asked of those DUI questions.
- Can a Murfreesboro DUI Attorney Challenge the Stop Itself? Although it may appear as though a law enforcement officer can stop you without a reason, the law says he/she cannot. Random stops in the hope of catching someone driving under the influence are not legal; however, a law enforcement can use a “pretext” to stop you. For example, an officer could stop you because you failed to signal a lane change or your license plate light is not working properly and then turn that stop into a DUI investigation. While a pretextual stop may be acceptable, a stop without a reason is not. Therefore, a Smyrna DUI attorney could challenge a stop if no reason was articulated and/or apparent.
- Can I Refuse to Perform the Field Sobriety Tests? Yes. In fact, there I rarely any benefit to agreeing to perform the field sobriety tests (FSTs). The three standard FSTs – Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, one-leg stand, and the walk and turn – are both administered and judged by the investigating officer. In other words, the same person who gives you the test decides if you passed or not. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that most people fail the tests. Moreover, the results are not admissible at trial, but can be used to establish probable cause for your arrest.
- Can I Refuse the Breath Test? Yes – but with consequences. Like most states, the State of Tennessee has an “implied consent” law that effectively says that by driving on the state’s public roadways, you agree to submit to a chemical test if you are arrested for DUI. Despite the implied consent law, you can refuse to take the breath test; however, you will incur an automatic license revocation.
- Can I Get My License Back? Probably. Your license will be revoked if you refused the breath test. In addition, if you are convicted of DUI, your driving privileges will also be revoked. You may, however, qualify for a restricted license that will allow you to drive for essential purposes, such as to work, court appearances, or to the doctor’s office.
- What are the Penalties for a First-Time DUI? If you are convicted of DUI as a first-time offender, you face a number of serious judicial and non-judicial consequences. Judicial consequences include things such as:
- 48 hours up to 11 months, 29 days for offenders in violation of 55-10-401
- License revocation for 1 year
- Participate in an alcohol and drug treatment program
- Restitution if you injured anyone in an accident
- $350-$1,500 fine
Non-judicial consequences are things that happen as a result of the conviction but that are not part of the court’s sentencing, such as increased liability insurance, disciplinary action if you hold a professional license, and/or disqualification for many employment opportunities.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro DUI attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule a free consultation.