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

  • You do not have to consent and should not consent to field sobriety tests
  • You have a right to an independent blood test
  • You may be videotaped and recorded during the entirety of the stop

Elements of DUI – What The State Must Prove

  • Your identity
  • That you were driving or in physical control
  • Of a motor vehicle
  • In Tennessee
  • On a public road, highway, alley, or premises generally frequented by the public at large (includes parking lots)
  • 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

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

Crucial Needs For Defending Your Case

  • A complete investigation of your case
  • 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
  • Vigorous cross-examination of the police officer
  • Knowledge of constitutional principles applicable to DUI
  • Knowledge and understanding of field sobriety tests
  • Knowledge and understanding of breath and blood testing

Questions We Will Address In Defending Your Case

  • Did the officer have a reasonable articulable suspicion to stop your vehicle?
  • Did the officer have probable cause to ask you to take a breath or blood test?
  • Did the officer have probable cause to arrest you?
  • Did the officer have the statutory authority to arrest you?
  • Were you in physical control of your vehicle?
  • Is there exculpatory evidence to prove your innocence?
  • Is there an evidentiary problem with your blood alcohol test?
  • Is there a question about the reliability in the blood/breath testing machine or in the procedures used in obtaining the sample?
  • Is there a chain of custody issue regarding the blood sample?
  • 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

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

Determining If You Go To Trial

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

How Will This Affect Your License?

  • 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.
  • 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 423-265-2385 to set up an appointment.

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