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Nashville police officer charged with DUI refuses BAC test

A conviction on charges of driving while under the influence comes with serious consequences, which can include jail time, hefty fines and license suspension or revocation. For some people, even charges can affect their professional career, as one young Nashville police officer is now discovering.

During the early morning hours of a recent morning, a 26-year-old man traveling east on Broadway in Nashville was spotted by a trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The trooper noticed that the vehicle’s headlights were not on, and he pulled the car over. He noticed that the driver was unsteady on his feet, had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol, so he administered field sobriety tests, which the young man failed. The driver refused a breath alcohol test. During the stop, law enforcement officers discovered a gun in the car’s console.

It was discovered that the driver was actually a young officer with Nashville’s Metro Police Department who just graduated from the police academy in Dec. 2012. He was off duty at the time of the incident, however, and was driving his personal vehicle. He was arrested for driving under the influence, as well as unlawfully possessing a gun while under the influence. He was relieved of his duties with the police department, but it is unclear whether he has lost his job.

An additional charge of violating the state’s implied consent law was also levied on the driver, which carries a minimum license suspension of one year and a possible fine of up to $1,500. The implied consent law in Tennessee makes it mandatory for anyone suspected of DWI to submit to a breath, blood or urine test to determine their blood alcohol level at the police officer’s discretion.

Fortunately, there were no accidents or injuries resulting from this DUI arrest. While the police officer’s observations and the driver’s failing of the field sobriety tests may present a challenge, the charges for failure to submit to a breath alcohol content test may be questioned in court. There are many twists and turns in the law that legal professionals can take advantage of when defending an accused client, including whether the arresting officer notified the driver of the consequences of his refusal to take the test.

Source: The Tennessean, "Nashville officer decommissioned after DUI arrest," Andy Humbles, June 23, 2014

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