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Getting pulled over after having a few drinks can be a terrifying and stressful experience. You may be wondering if you should take a breathalyzer test or what you should do if you are charged with driving while intoxicated. Hiring effective legal representation can help you minimize the consequences of DUI or DWI charges.
Chelsea Nicholson, Attorney at Law is committed to offering no-judgment, comprehensive legal representation in these situations. Our Nashville DUI defense lawyer has over 16 years of legal experience and is ready to fight for your rights and freedom. We regularly use science to challenge flawed methods for determining intoxication levels and can leverage our knowledge and resources to protect your future.
If you have been charged with DUI, do not wait to seek legal assistance. Contact us online or call (615) 913-3932 to discuss your case with us.
What to Do if You Are Pulled over for Drunk Driving in Tennessee
Getting pulled over in any scenario is never fun. When you know you have been drinking or have consumed a mind-altering substance, seeing flashing police lights in your rearview mirror can easily inspire justified anxiety. However, it is important that you keep a level head during these encounters, and there are several steps you can take to protect your rights when pulled over on suspicion of DUI.
When a law enforcement officer is attempting to pull you over and you know you have been drinking, you should:
- Not panic. The officer will carefully analyze your driving from this point forward, so avoid swerving the car. Instead, use your turn signal and come to a safe stop as soon as possible.
- Be calm and courteous. Being rude or standoffish to an officer will often exacerbate the situation and put you in a worse position. Treat the officer with kindness and respect.
- Only answer what you have to. You must provide the officer with your name, driver’s license, and vehicle registration when requested. Otherwise, you have the right to invoke the fifth amendment and decline to answer additional questions without a lawyer present. Avoid answering seemingly innocuous questions like “Where are you coming from?” or “Have you been drinking this evening?”
- Follow officer instructions. If the officer suspects you are intoxicated, they may ask you to step out of the vehicle. They may also ask you to submit to chemical testing or the Standardized Field Sobriety Test. You have the right to refuse either request, but doing so can lead to other consequences.
- Seek legal representation. Whether you refuse to take a sobriety test or do take one and are charged with DUI, you will need a legal professional to fight for your rights and serve as your advocate. Our Nashville DUI defense attorney will swiftly and diligently respond to your inquiry and provide you with the guidance you need.
Penalties for DUI Charges in Tennessee
DUI charges are aggressively prosecuted in Tennessee, and convictions can result in severe penalties. Even a single, first-time conviction with no extenuating circumstances can lead to many months of incarceration.
In Tennessee, consequences for DUI convictions are as follows:
- First Offense: Up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, one-year license revocation, mandatory “DUI School” and/or Victim Impact Panel counseling, possible Ignition Interlock Device (IID) requirement; mandatory seven days in jail if BAC is over 0.20%
- Second Offense: Mandatory 45 days in jail and up to 11 months and 29 days of incarceration in total, up to $3,500 in fines, two-year license revocation, and mandatory IID
- Third Offense: Mandatory 120 days in jail and up to 11 months and 29 days of incarceration in total, up to $10,000 in fines, six-year license revocation, and mandatory IID
- Fourth and Fifth Offenses: Mandatory 150 days in jail and up to 15 years of incarceration in total, up to $15,000 in fines, eight-year license revocation, and mandatory IID; charged as a Class E felony
- Sixth and Subsequent Offenses: Mandatory 150 days in jail and up to 15 years of incarceration in total, up to $15,000 in fines, eight-year license revocation, and mandatory IID; charged as a Class C felony
Keep in mind that these penalties only apply when you are convicted for DUI when no other aggravating factors are involved. You could face additional charges and legal penalties if you are arrested for DUI with minor children in the vehicle or if your vehicle injures or kills someone else as a result of intoxicated driving.
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What Is Tennessee’s Implied Consent Law?
Tennessee’s implied consent law requires drivers to submit to chemical tests – which test your breath, blood, or urine – when requested by law enforcement who believe someone may be operating a vehicle while under the influence. You have the right to refuse chemical testing, and it may be in your best interest to do so if you know you are intoxicated and suspect you may be above the legal limit. Drivers who refuse to agree to chemical testing will face consequences, but they are typically far less severe than DUI penalties.
In Tennessee, consequences for refusing chemical testing and violating implied consent laws are as follows:
- First Offense: One-year license suspension
- First Offense with Accident that Causes Injury: Two-year license suspension
- Second Offense with Accident that Causes Death: Five-year license suspension
- Second and Subsequent Offenses: Two-year license suspension
Note that chemical tests are distinct from the Standardized Field Sobriety Test, which is not covered under the state’s implied consent laws. You have the right to decline any form of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test without breaking any law or forfeiting any driving privileges. Officers will likely ask you to submit to a chemical test if you decline, however.
We Care About Your Case
Chelsea Nicholson, Attorney at Law recognizes the stress and uncertainty you experience when charged with DUI. Our Nashville DUI defense lawyer knows how to effectively navigate these cases and can build a robust defense that will work to protect your rights. We routinely use science to demonstrate the unreliability of both Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and chemical testing. Our team can also utilize procedural law enforcement mistakes to secure the best possible outcome. No matter the specifics of your situation, we are committed to fighting for your innocence and will work tirelessly on your behalf.
Schedule a free initial consultation by calling (615) 913-3932 or contacting us online.
Attorney Chelsea Nicholson has tried over 13 jury trials in her twelve years of practice including drug cases, rape offenses, DUI, kidnapping and robbery offenses. She has shown she is a trial attorney, who is willing to fight hard for her clients and fight for justice.Learn More
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