If you have been arrested for a DUI in Tennessee, the clock is already ticking. If you do not request an administrative license hearing in Tennessee within 10 business days, your license revocation will stand and you will have no chance of driving your vehicle for a full year. So, how should you proceed?
The first thing you need to do is contact a Tennessee DUI attorney. In order to do this, you can fill out the Free DUI Arrest form to get a case review and a local attorney connection. This will give you a much better idea of your chances and possible defense strategies.
What Is the Legal Process for a DUI in Tennessee?
After being arrested and processed, the defendant will be brought in front of a judicial officer or magistrate. This individual will listen to the officer’s testimony and make a decision as to whether you will be charged or released. If charged, a warrant is issued and you must post bail (assuming bail has been set).
It is at this point that you should contact an attorney and supply him or her with all evidence available. Remember, your attorney has only ten business days to request the administrative license hearing to avoid the automatic suspension of the license, so you need to move fast. Be prudent in your selection, but time is of the essence.
Later in the process, you will have to make your plea as well as either waving or having a preliminary hearing. If you waive your right to the hearing, you are entitled to watch the video evidence against you. However, since this same evidence can be requested at discovery, you and your attorney may instead decide to move ahead with the hearing to question the arresting officer.
More court dates will be scheduled to ensure the process is moving along. Schedule dates will be established to review the discovery process, file motions, and a plea date. After the plea is given, an actual court date will be set to try the case (assuming the case is not dismissed, you have not pled out, and want to fight the charges).
How to Get Your License Back After a Tennessee DUI Arrest
If you are going to have any chance of getting your license back after a DUI arrest in Tennessee, you are going to have to submit a chemical test after your arrest. Refusal to take a TN test carries a mandatory one-year suspension for first time Tennessee offenders and a two-year suspension for second and third time offenders. For some, this may not be a problem. For those that require a license to do their job or for transportation to and from work, surrendering their license for a full year is simply not an option.
First time offenders can request a restricted license that will enable him or her to travel to and from work, to and from school, to and from DUI educational program, and to and from Ignition Interlock Device appointments. You must submit an SR-22 to provide proof of insurance and pay a $67 fee for a class D license. You must also pass a driver’s test. Second time offenders can request the same restricted license, but must serve a full one-year suspension before being able to apply. In addition, the Ignition Interlock Device is mandatory on the vehicle.
If you are going to fight the charges, you can also get your license back by winning your case and having the charges completely dismissed. In addition, your attorney may be able to have the charges reduced, but in Tennessee, this does not happen as often as some other states.
Ways to Fight Tennessee DUI Charges
Officer Error – no one person is perfect and your DUI attorney may be able to find some errors in how the arresting officer handled your case and processed your evidence. For instance, did the officer mishandle the chemical tests or were they conducted by someone other than a qualified tech? Does the police report differ from the video evidence or testimony of the officer?
Fighting the Evidence – if you agreed to have roadside field sobriety tests in Tennessee done after the traffic stop, the officer more than likely pointed to these results as the reason for the arrest. However, these tests are often filled with misinformation for a variety of reasons. For the record, you are under no obligation to perform these tests and can politely refuse. However, if it is too late for that, let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons these tests can be invalidated by a good Tennessee DUI attorney:
- Driving conditions of the day may have affected how you controlled your vehicle. If the weather was bad or you were trying to avoid something, you may have swerved the vehicle in and out of a lane, appearing to be intoxicated.
- If the officer stopped you and smelled alcohol on your breath, he or she would automatically consider DUI. However, having one drink will not put the average person over the limit. Or, what if someone spilled alcohol on you and your clothing? In a case such as this, it would benefit you to take the chemical test, but NOT the road sobriety tests.
- Your appearance can often be misleading. If, for instance, you are just getting off a double shift, your eyes may be bloodshot and tired, in addition to having a disheveled appearance. Without all of the facts, it is very understandable for the officer to assume this appearance is from having a night out on the town. Unfortunately, at least for the officer, making assumptions does not convict anyone, facts and evidence do.
- Slurred speech can also be caused for a variety of reasons other than alcohol consumption. Anyone that has been in a dental chair can attest to this! At times, medications or some type of physical condition, including being overly tired, can affect a person’s speech pattern.
- If you took the road tests, the conditions of the test can be called into question to refute the officer’s opinion of the results. For instance, if you have bad balance and the stop was made on a hill, what are your chances of being able to stand on a single leg with one foot raised for thirty seconds or more? What if the road is wet and you are wearing flip flips (which you should not be wearing while driving). Slick shoes could also affect how you are able to walk in bad conditions.
A good DUI attorney will find holes in the officer’s testimony and test results if they are there. On your part, fill out the Free DUI Arrest Evaluation form to find the best local attorney and to educate yourself of local DUI law.