Pleading guilty is the number one mistake made in DUI Defense.
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I was not read my rights, what does this mean?
The rights people are usually referring to are Miranda Rights, like what you see on T.V.: you have the right to remain silent, the right to a lawyer, etc., etc. Many people often ask if they have any recourse if the officer fails to read them these rights.
The answer is yes and no.
Miranda rights must be given to a suspect after he/she has been arrested and before an officer begins an interrogation. Most of the time in drunk driving cases, officers do not give Miranda warnings because the officer does not intend to interrogate a suspect after arrest. If the officer does question you post arrest without giving the Miranda warnings, then anything you say in response to a question by law enforcement may not be used in evidence at your trial.
Am I going to lose my license?
A DUI conviction will result in the loss of your Tennessee driver’s license for a minimum of one year and a possible suspension in your home state if you are not a Tennessee licensee. The length of suspension varies based on your prior record.
Additionally, refusal of a breath or blood test can also carry a suspension of your Tennessee driver’s license and in some instances, suspension of your out of state license.
In many instances, it is possible to apply for a restricted license during the suspension period. The restriction usually involves an ignition interlock device being installed in the vehicle.
For a more comprehensive break down of DUI penalties click here.
What is going to happen to my insurance?
If convicted of DUI, you will have to show proof of SR-22 insurance which can be costly. You will likely have difficulty obtaining private insurance at a decent rate thereafter.
I was asleep in my car but still got charged with DUI. Why?
Under Tennessee law, you can be charged with DUI for driving, operating, or being in physical control of a vehicle. Being asleep in a vehicle that is not running may constitute being in physical control of a vehicle.
In determining whether the suspect was in actual physical control, the courts will look to the following factors:
- the location of the defendant in relation to the vehicle
- the whereabouts of the ignition key
- whether the motor was running
- the defendant’s ability but for his intoxication , to direct the use or non-use of the vehicle, or
- the extent to which the vehicle itself is capable of being operated or moved under its own power or otherwise.
State v. Lawrence, 849 S.W.2d 761 (Tenn. 1993).
I did fine on the field tests, why was I arrested?
If you really did do well on the field tests, that is certainly a defense at trial.
In many cases, people believe they performed well on the tests because they are unaware of what the officer is looking for when he administered the test. The reason for that is the officer doesn’t tell you what he is looking for! Often times, the officers will miss-instruct a suspect during the explanation of the test, also rendering a suspect unaware of how he is actually being scored.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has approved and standardized a battery of tests that most officers administer on the road:
- The first test officers generally administer is the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, or the “follow the pen with your eyes” test. On this test, the officer is looking for an involuntary jerking of the eyes. You cannot control it or feel it, so a suspect generally will not know whether or not the officer observed nystagmus.
- The next test the officer should administer is the walk and turn test, or the walk the line test. On the walk and turn test, the officer is looking to see whether a suspect starts too soon (before the officer finishes giving the instructions), is unable to stand with one foot in front of the other while being instructed, fails to touch heel to toe on every step, stepped off the line, stops while walking, raises arms more than 6 inches, takes the wrong number of steps, or turns improperly.
- The final test is the one leg stand test. During this test, the officer is looking to see if a suspect puts his foot down during the thirty second test, hops, sways, and/or raises his arms more than six inches from his sides.
In addition to these standardized tests, the officers will often conduct a few non-standardized tests, such as reciting the alphabet, counting backwards, having the subject tilt his or her head back and estimate 30 seconds (Romberg test), as well as others.
Am I going to go to jail?
In Tennessee drunk driving convictions carry mandatory jail time, even on a first offense.
If I'm guilty, why do I need a lawyer?
In most DUI cases, an experienced practitioner can spot a defense. Over the years as drunk driving laws have become more stringent, defense lawyers have become more savvy.
There is litigation going on throughout the country questioning the reliability of the breath test machines, the procedures for blood testing, and the psuedo-scientific nature of the standardized field sobriety tests.
The efforts of many of these great lawyers has proven successful over the years, so it is well worth your while to have your case assessed by a well-trained DUI defense lawyer.
Below are just a few of the many possible defenses that a good lawyer will look for in your case:
- The officer had no legal right to pull over your vehicle.
- You weren’t driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle.
- No nexus exists between the time of drinking and the time of driving.
- Law enforcement did not comply with Tennessee law.
- You have a medical condition that inhibited your ability to perform the field sobriety tests to the officer’s satisfaction.
- The officer did not comply with the requirments necessary in obtaining a warrant to draw your blood.
- Your blood alcohol level was lower when driving than when tested.
- Your breath or blood test was a false high reading.
What is this whole thing going to cost me?
Unfortunately a run in with the law can prove to be quite expensive. Aside from your lawyer’s fees, which can cost several thousand dollars, you should also prepare yourself for fines, court costs, and the cost of alcohol counseling.
Most lawyers offer free consultations and many law firms offer payment plans.
Just remember you get what you pay for, and good representation is a worthwhile investment.
Let experienced Chattanooga, Tennessee DUI defense attorney Andrea Hayduk review your case and advise you as to your options. Contact Ms. Hayduk now at 423-805-3100 or click below for a free initial consultation.