Things to Know About Your DUI Case in Tennessee

By Tennessee DUI Attorneys at Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers

What You Should Know Before You Are Stopped

  1. You do not have to consent and should not consent to field sobriety tests
  2. You have a right to an independent blood test
  3. You may be videotaped and recorded during the entirety of the stop
  4. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE

Elements of DUI - What The State Must Prove

  1. Your identity
  2. That you were driving or in physical control
  3. Of a motor vehicle
  4. In Tennessee
  5. On a public road, highway, alley, or premises generally frequented by the public at large (includes parking lots)
  6. Impairment:
    • Either your blood alcohol content was .08% or higher, or
    • You were under the influence of an intoxicant that impaired your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle

Observations You Should Record ASAP After Your Arrest To Provide To Your Attorney

  1. Where had you been and where were you going?
  2. How many alcoholic beverages had you consumed?
  3. Names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses who were with you and can testify as to your condition of sobriety.
  4. What were your observations of the police officer?
  5. What reason did the officer give for stopping you?
  6. Did the police officer activate his blue lights to stop you?
  7. If not, how did the officer stop or approach you? Did you feel free to leave, and if not, why? Be specific.
  8. What were the police officer's instructions to you for field sobriety tests?
  9. Did you make any statements to the police officer?
  10. Did the officer read the implied consent form to you?
  11. Did the officer order you or ask you to submit to a breath or blood test?
  12. What do you recall about what he told you about consenting to a blood or breath test?
  13. What were the results of any breath or blood tests?
  14. How many times did you attempt a breath test?
  15. How long did the officer observe you prior to the breath test?
  16. Was the officer doing anything else while "observing" you prior to the breath test?
  17. If you had a blood test, where were you taken for the blood test?
  18. Who administered the blood test?
  19. Step by step, explain what the person administering the blood test did.
  20. Did the officer inform you that you had a right to have an independent test?
  21. Were there any witnesses to your arrest?
  22. What is your medical background?

Crucial Needs For Defending Your Case

  1. A complete investigation of your case
  2. Obtaining a copy and reviewing any video of the stop and arrest, any video of your entry and booking at the jail, and any video of the breath or blood test
  3. Vigorous cross-examination of the police officer
  4. Knowledge of constitutional principles applicable to DUI
  5. Knowledge and understanding of field sobriety tests
  6. Knowledge and understanding of breath and blood testing

Questions We Will Address In Defending Your Case

  1. Did the officer have a reasonable articulable suspicion to stop your vehicle?
  2. Did the officer have probable cause to ask you to take a breath or blood test?
  3. Did the officer have probable cause to arrest you?
  4. Did the officer have the statutory authority to arrest you?
  5. Were you in physical control of your vehicle?
  6. Is there exculpatory evidence to prove your innocence?
  7. Is there an evidentiary problem with your blood alcohol test?
  8. Is there a question about the reliability in the blood/breath testing machine or in the procedures used in obtaining the sample?
  9. Is there a chain of custody issue regarding the blood sample?
  10. Are there any personal characteristics or medical conditions which could affect the results of your breath or blood test?

Ways To Challenge Your DUI Case

  1. Discredit the officer's testimony through inconsistent statements
  2. Discredit the officer's testimony through failure to recall
  3. Use the video of the stop to challenge the stop
  4. Use the video of the field sobriety tests, jail entry, and breath or blood test to show the lack of impairment
  5. Pretrial motions challenging
    1. Constitutionality of the stop
    2. Constitutionality of any search
    3. Admissibility of field sobriety tests
    4. Probable cause to arrest
    5. Reliability of the breath testing machine or testing procedure
    6. Reliability of the blood testing machine and testing procedure
    7. Chain of custody of blood sample

Determining If You Go To Trial

  1. Estimate the strengths and weaknesses of the State's case against you
  2. Understand the effects of a conviction
  3. Cost benefit analysis: How much is it worth to defend your case?

How Will This Affect Your License?

  1. If your blood alcohol is over the legal limit or you refused a test, and if you are convicted, you may not be able to drive for a long period of time.
  2. Restricted licenses are granted only to true first offenders allowing you to drive:
    • Going to and from working at your regular place of employment
    • Going to and from court-ordered alcohol safety program
    • Going to and from a college or university if you are a full time student
    • Going to and from a scheduled interlock monitoring appointment

We offer a free consultation on all Tennessee DUI cases and many other state and federal criminal matters. Please contact us at 423-933-2738 to set up an appointment.