Charged with a DUI in Tennessee?
Being charged with a DUI in Tennessee introduces a dizzying host of issues. Legal, monetary, and social consequences can merely be the start of a difficult path in returning one’s life back to normal. Generally, the criminal justice system’s aim is processing these cases as quickly and efficiently as possible. Each case sweeps the unfamiliar individual into a system of high-risk choices and turns. This blog post explores the basics of DUI and why hiring an experienced DUI attorney is the best decision one can make in moving forward confidently.
How much does a DUI cost you in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, a DUI is one of the most expensive misdemeanors to commit. A court order may require fines (a first offense DUI can range from $350 to $1100), interlock devices that cost around $1,200 a year, DUI offender classes that are priced at hundreds of dollars, and even treatment programs for additional thousands of dollars. Likewise, merely covering the assortment of court fees and assessments will incur a debt of another few hundred dollars. Beyond the court, a DUI charge will result in expensive insurance premiums often increasing an offender’s total yearly car insurance by 75%. The costs associated with a DUI can feel overwhelming and seem to appear from every corner. However, having an attorney with an in-depth knowledge of all these costs can not only help produce the best legal solution, but also the best plan in mitigating costs associated with DUI.
What are the consequences of a DUI in Tennessee?
In considering legal consequences, DUIs present serious concerns. A first offense DUI can result in up to one year’s loss of a driver’s license. Similarly, if an individual is convicted of violating Tennessee’s implied consent law, there is a mandatory one-year loss of license. Under the implied consent law, when signing for a Tennessee driver’s license, all drivers agree to chemical testing (meaning a blood test or breathalyzer) if suspected of DUI. While many drivers are unaware they are consenting to such a search of their person when receiving their license, they are nonetheless at high risk of consequence should they refuse. Furthermore, unlike many misdemeanors, DUI convictions can never be expunged under Tennessee law. Regardless of time or changes in life, a conviction follows an individual as a permanent fixture on their record. This presents further problems, as DUIs can often serve as enhancement factors should a person face future legal issues. A second DUI charge, for example, will necessarily have harsher consequences resulting from a previous conviction. When assessing a client’s case, a DUI attorney has all these possible consequences in mind. While not all issues can be dismissed, by working together with their client, an attorney will help prioritize and execute on those goals most important to the client.
In assessing a DUI case, an attorney begins with the law. Under the Tennessee DUI law, it is unlawful for any person to drive or be in physical control of any automobile on any public road or general public premise while under the influence of an intoxicant that impairs the ability to drive safely or with an alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more. In a DUI charge, the burden is on the State to establish each one of these elements to obtain a guilty conviction. Failure to show all but one of these elements must result in a dismissal of the charge. As DUI attorneys, we are well equipped to ensure the State fulfills the full extent of its burden.
How to fight a DUI Charge in Tennessee
In fighting a DUI charge, there are multiple areas in which an attorney can press. Each DUI must begin with an initial stop and seizure conducted by law enforcement. Law enforcement are limited by both constitutional and statutory rules regarding the stop and seizure of drivers. Failure to observe any of these rules can result in what is regarded as a “bad stop,” and any resulting interaction between law enforcement and a driver becomes inadmissible as evidence against that driver. Further, if a driver does not consent to chemical testing, law enforcement officers are required to apply for a search warrant through a judge. These warrants must be strictly tailored to satisfy constitutional protections, and failure to satisfy them results in inadmissible evidence. Likewise, chemical testing by blood or breath is prone to issues. For example, should an officer fail to maintain direct observation of a subject for 20 minutes prior to a breath test, the results from the test are automatically subject to a much higher scrutiny.
Nowadays, almost all police-citizen encounters are recorded via body worn camera and dash camera video footage. Video provides an unbiased account of the crucial elements of probable cause in a DUI stop. A video can show the cause for the stop, who was in control of a car, an officer’s initial interaction with a subject, field sobriety tests, the basis for a search warrant, consent for breath or chemical testing, and the administration of a search warrant. An experienced DUI attorney will know to scrutinize each of these elements and keep the police and state accountable for cutting corners. And at the end of the day, should none of these areas be available to press on, having an attorney who knows the courts and prosecutors allows for the potential of creative negotiations and legal solutions on behalf of clients.
Contact an Experienced Tennessee DUI Attorney
Whether a DUI resulted from false accusation or a bad decision, like failing to call a cab at the close of the night, an attorney is a vital guide through a legal process that can be frightening, confusing, and full of snares for the unwary. If you find yourself needing such help today, don’t hesitate to reach out to our DUI attorneys at (615) 265-6383 and regain control in a difficult time.