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DUI arrest lesson 1: Don't forget right to remain silent

We enjoy a lot of freedoms in Tennessee. Our basic rights are enshrined in the constitutions of both the state and the United States. One of the most fundamental rights is that a person is innocent of any criminal charge until proven guilty.

That goes for any crime, including something as seemingly mundane as drunk driving charges. And it may be particularly important to remember if a person is facing DUI charges and they have one or more convictions for DUI already on their record.

Another (notable perhaps because it has been so often pronounced as part of popular prime time television crime dramas) is that you have the right to remain silent. We suspect that if you walked up to any stranger on the street and asked them to quickly name one right, they likely would blurt out, “The right to remain silent.”

This bit of knowledge appears to sadly have been left on the side of the road during one recent arrest in Rogersville. Authorities there say they took a 36-year-old man into custody last weekend on suspicion of driving drunk. The arresting officer says those suspicions were supported by his observations that the man smelled of alcohol, appeared very unsteady on his feet and didn’t do well on field sobriety tests.

But what may be potentially most damaging in this case is the officer’s claim that when the man was asked, he said he had had “12, 14, 24 or 48 beers” prior to his being stopped.

This man is now facing a charge of DUI 5th offense. Additional charges against him include driving on a revoked license 3rd offense and violation of Tennessee’s implied consent law. He is alleged to have refused to submit to a breath test at the time of his arrest.

Source: Kingsport Times-News, “How many beers? Hawkins County man tells police '12, 14, 24 or 48',” Jeff Bobo, May 6, 2013

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