Do not assume you are guilty before speaking with a qualified Tennessee DUI attorney
In 2014, Tennessee officials arrested 26,810 individuals for driving while intoxicated (DUI). These serious charges can lead to jail time, significant fines, participation in court-ordered substance abuse programs and license suspension or revocation. Yet, it is important to remember that those accused of DUI are innocent until convicted. Do not assume a court will find you automatically guilty, even if you failed a breathalyzer or field sobriety test. Depending on the specifics of your situation, an experienced Tennessee DUI attorney can use a variety of defenses to protect your rights and minimize the impact of a DUI arrest.
- Legality of a DUI stop. Most DUI offenses commonly involve legal violations such as erratic driving, speeding, malfunctioning vehicle lights or some other obvious and reasonable grounds for making a traffic stop. Any evidence collected after a stop made without a valid, legal reason is not admissible against you and may lead the court to dismiss the charges.
- Probable cause for arrest. After pulling you over, the officer will observe your actions, appearance and/or performance on a field sobriety test and may arrest you if he or she feels there is enough evidence to support an objective belief that you are impaired, i.e., there is “probable cause” for a DUI arrest. It may be possible to refute the legitimacy of this probable cause, however. For example, there could be another valid explanation for the impaired behavior, such as a medical condition or side effects of a prescription or over-the-counter medication that that mimic the effect of alcohol use. Similarly, it may be possible to discredit the officer's account of the arrest and/or his or her perception of factors used as evidence of intoxication.
- Field sobriety test. Another way to challenge probable cause is to attack the validity of a field sobriety test. Such assessments often require more dexterity than many people can demonstrate when sober and use an officer's subjective opinion to determine a person's score, making them unreliable measures of intoxication. As such, there is a variety of reasons one might fail these tests, such as being tired or ill, stiff from traveling for hours, being overweight or wearing restrictive clothing or loose shoes.
- Blood tests. Although the most reliable way to evaluate BAC, blood tests are still subject to potential issues that can compromise their results, including unqualified or inexperienced lab technicians, old or poorly maintained equipment or a breakdown in the blood sample's chain of custody.
- DUI checkpoints. Given the potential conflict with the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement must establish DUI roadblocks using specific protocols, e.g., using a uniform method for stopping vehicles, providing appropriate notice to motorists and observing a person's constitutional privacy rights throughout the stop. DUI checkpoints that do not follow these procedures properly may be illegal.
These are but some of the many defense strategies the Murfreesboro DUI attorneys at Dotson & Taylor consider after reviewing the facts of your case. Our familiarity with the proper procedures required at every stage of the Tennessee DUI process allows us to efficiently spot potential mistakes and maximize your chances of beating a DUI charge. Contact our experienced Tennessee DUI attorneys anytime to learn more about your options. We can be reached at 615-890-1982 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.