Defending DUI2018-06-04T09:27:13+00:00

DUI Defense

How do you defend against DUI in Tennessee?

Defending against a DUI charge is as much art as it is science. There is a multi-step process through which any DUI case is defended. An immense amount of information is gained from the reason for the officer stopping you to the completion of reports and signing of the affidavit for the arrest warrant by the officer.

The first question when defending a DUI is whether the officer has a reason to stop or approach your vehicle. Common reasons for stopping a vehicle include: swerving, crossing the center line, crossing the fog line, driving under the speed limit, no seatbelt, and more. Common reasons for approaching a parked vehicle are: public parking lot with no other vehicles in the parking lot at an unusual time, reports of a person sleeping in a vehicle, slumped over the steering wheel, and more.

It is important to determine if the officer had probable cause to stop you because if the officer does not have probable cause to stop you then there is no probable cause to arrest you for DUI.

An officer must develop reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed in order to ask you to get out of your vehicle. Reasons an officer may asked you to get out of the vehicle are:

  • Admission of drinking
  • Odor of alcohol
  • Red bloodshot eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Visibile open container
  • The list continues…

It is important to determine if the officer had reasonable suspicion to ask you to exit the vehicle. If the officer did not have reasonable suspicion then the officer did not have reason to arrest you.

The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine if you are impaired. Many tests were considered, but researchers decided three particular tests were the most accurate when considered together. The tests consist of the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and the one leg stand. These tests are meant to be administered in a standardized manner. The tests should be conducted on a flat, dry, level surface.

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN): The HGN is generally not admissible in Tennessee courts because there are many different causes of nystagmus other than alcohol or drugs. Even though the test is generally not admissible in Tennessee courts, it is important to determine if the test was administered properly. The test should be conduct in a specific manner and if the HGN is not, it could indicate lack of impairment.
  • Walk and turn: The walk and turn test is a divided attention test. You are given a series of instructions that must be administered in the standardized fashion or the validity of the test can be compromised. If the validity of the test is compromised than it is not a good indicator as to whether you were impaired or not. Additionally, the officer does not tell you there are nine (9) clues he is looking for and if you demonstrate only two (2) clues, you have failed the walk and turn test.
  • One leg stand: The one leg stand is the final divided attention administered during this three test battery. Like the other two tests, this test also has a standard series of instructions that must be administered or the validity of the test is compromised. Unlike the walk and turn, there are only four (4) clues in this test that the officer does not tell you about and the officer only needs to observe two (2) clues to make a determination that you are impaired and failed the test.

The officer can administer other non-standardized tests if you are unable to conduct the standardized test for medical reasons, weather conditions, or if you are over the age of sixty-five (65). Some of these standardized tests are: the finger count, finger to nose, modified romberg, and lack of convergence test.

The implied consent advisement is how the officer generally seeks to obtain a sample of breath or blood to determine the alcohol or drug content of your blood. There is a standardized form provided by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security to the officers that must be read in order to properly obtain breath or blood.

Recent supreme court case law and changes to the Tennessee implied consent statute makes obtaining a blood sample more difficult and potentially makes the blood draw you consented to inadmissible. It is important to determine if the officer properly administered the implied consent advisement. Failure to properly administer the implied consent advisement could result in the suppression of your blood results.

An officer can also get a search warrant for your blood to determine the alcohol or drug content of your blood. If a warrant is obtained then it is important to determine if the warrant was executed properly or sufficient to force a blood draw.

It is important to determine that each step of the DUI investigation was complied with because each mistake is a potential defense in your case. Additionally, it is important to analysis your conduct through each step of the process. The officer may believe you look impaired, but there might be another explanation such as: sleepiness, allergies, a medical condition, etc…

It is important to throughly explore all possibilities in order to develop the most comprehensive defense possible.

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