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DUI FAQ

Facing DUI Charges?

DUI FAQ

Will a DUI conviction be on my record forever? . . .

A DUI is one of the few misdemeanor convictions that is not eligible to be expunged from your record. This is why consulting with an attorney to discuss all available options is critical.

What type of driving do police officers look for as indications a person is under the influence? . . .

The symptoms of a driver under the influence vary depending on the person’s reaction to alcohol, but often include:
• Wide turns
• Driving below the speed limit
• Erratic braking
• Near accidents
• Slow response to traffic lights and traffic signs
• Turning abruptly
• Straddling the centerline
• Swerving
• Stopping without an apparent reason
• Following too closely
• Driving off the road
• Using the wrong turn signal
• Drifting in your lane of traffic
• Weaving

What should I say to the police officer that stops me and asks me if I have been drinking? . . .

The police cannot force you to answer any questions. You may tell them that you would prefer to speak to an attorney before answering any questions.

Should I agree to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs)? . . .

Field sobriety tests can include physical tests alphabet recitations, fingers to thumb, etc. You are not legally required to perform any of these tests. Whether you pass or not can depend on the officer. If is important to know the tests are evidence that can be used to convict you of a DUI. You are entitled to politely decline these tests.

Should I submit to a chemical test? Can I refuse? . . .

The police officer cannot force you to submit to a chemical test. However, if it is found that you refused the test, your driver’s license very well could be suspended for a period of one (1) year by the State of Tennessee no matter what the outcome of the Court case is.

What type of chemical test should I take? . . .

You may be given a choice of Blood or Breath tests. Blood tests are the most accurate of the tests plus the same must be preserved according to specific rules so that it is available for later independent testing and analysis. Breath test results can be unreliable for a variety of reasons. No breath sample can be preserved for later analysis. In summary, a blood test should be chosen if you are confident that your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit. If you are concerned that your blood alcohol level may be high, taking a breath test allows the possibility of impeaching the results later.

Should my case be dismissed if the officer never read me my Miranda Rights? . . .

While officers are supposed to give you a warning about your 5th Amendment rights, failure to do so usually does not merit a dismissal. However, if an officer fails to inform you of these rights, the prosecution is not allowed to use your answers to their post arrest questions as evidence of your DUI.

Why do I have two (2) charges against me? . . .

You are being charged with two separate crimes. In most DUI situations, you are charged with (1) driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.8% or higher, and (2) driving while under the influence of alcohol. You can be convicted of either one or both, but you are only punished once. In Tennessee, driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher is an offense. Also driving under the influence is an offense for which you may be convicted no matter your blood alcohol content. That is to say, your blood alcohol content could be lower than .08% but if the intake of alcohol influences your driving then you could be convicted of driving under the influence.

It’s only a DUI; can’t I just represent myself? . . .

You are legally allowed to represent yourself, however, you are likely to get a much more favorable result if you retain a knowledgeable DUI attorney. Hiring an attorney can result in the charges being reduced or dismissed, or the need for jail time can often be eliminated. The attorneys at Johnston & Street, PLLC will review your case and the police reports. Your attorney will also analyze the results of the chemical tests, compel discovery of the pertinent maintenance records and arrange for blood samples to be tested by an independent lab. We will review the need to file Motions on your behalf with the Court and use our expertise to negotiate a more favorable conclusion with the District Attorney.

Is it important that my attorney have experience in the Court where my case is pending? . . .

It is very important that your attorney be experienced in handling DUI matters and be very familiar with the Court where your case is pending. An attorney who handles many cases in the Court where your case is pending should be familiar with the particular sentencing policies. This experience helps in producing a more favorable outcome.

How much will it cost to hire an attorney? . . .

Attorney’s fees vary depending on the attorney’s experience in handling DUI matters. Frequently, attorneys who have a local office near the Court where your case is pending, have the most reasonable fees. These local attorneys are also more familiar with the people and procedures of the Court where your case is pending. A high qualified DUI attorney will normally charge between $1,500.00 to $7,500.00 to handle the case up to trial. Fees for a jury trial often range from $1,000.00 to $2,500.00 per day. Call for a free consultation which will include a free quote.

What is the “rising blood alcohol defense? . . .

This defense technique that may be available to you depending on the amount of time that has elapsed between the time you consumed alcohol and the time of your chemical test. Alcohol that you drink is not absorbed into your blood stream immediately. It can take as little as 30 minutes to as long as several hours for alcohol that you consume to enter into your blood stream. During the time that elapses while you are stopped, transported to the station, and waiting for your chemical test, you may still be absorbing the alcohol in your stomach. In other words, your BAC is higher at the time of the test than it was when you were actually driving. This experience helps in producing a more favorable outcome.

Are there any defenses available in a DUI case? . . .

While there is no limit to the types of defenses that may be available depending on the facts of any particular case, the following defenses are common in the field of DUI defense:
• Lack of probable cause. If the officer did not have probable cause to stop, detain, test or arrest you, evidence obtained against you may be excluded.
• Lack of proof you were driving the vehicle. The prosecution must prove that the defendant was driving the vehicle. If there are no witnesses, this may be difficult.
• Lack of warnings. If the officer failed to give you Miranda warnings at the required time, incriminating statements made by the defendant may be excluded. This is in addition to proving you were driving under the influence. Additionally, if you refused to submit to a chemical test and the officer did not appropriately advise you of the consequences of a refusal, evidence of the refusal may be excluded.
• Lack of reliable chemical test results. The reliability of the results of your chemical may be impeached if the machine was not property maintained, calibrated and operated.
• Lack of properly preserved blood sample. If you submitted to a blood test, your blood sample must be preserved and available to you and your lawyer for independent testing.
• Lack of reliable observations by the officer. The officer’s observations that a defendant “appeared” to be under the influence, or that he/she “failed” a field sobriety test can sometimes be impeached. Your attorney can expose the officer’s bias or use witnesses to contradict his observations.

I have more questions about my DUI matter, where else can I go to get information and help? . . .

Please call our attorneys at Johnston & Street, PLLC, at (615) 791-1819 or contact us by email at team@johnstonandstreet.com. You will receive a consultation about your case with an attorney who is very familiar with DUI matters and knows about the specific Court where your case is pending. At Johnston & Street, PLLC, we approach every case with the belief that the person we’re defending could easily be one of our own family members. We’ve seen firsthand how stressful legal matters can be for our clients and their loved ones. We are committed to being available to our clients at all times – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you or someone you know is facing drunk driving charges in the Middle Tennessee area, you should contact Johnston & Street, PLLC today for a thorough evaluation.