A DUI is a serious criminal charge in any state, and Southern states such as Tennessee tend to be harsher than many. This is because drunken drivers pose a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road. Each day, about 29 deaths occur in the US because of drunken driving. Getting behind the wheel after drinking is taking a risk not only for your safety, but it also poses a significant risk to your finances and financial standing. DUI fines and mandatory treatment programs aren’t cheap, and receiving jail time can easily lead to lost jobs. Also, your insurance rates are likely to increase dramatically.
Tennessee’s basic penalties for a DUI offense include mandatory jail time, even for first-time offenders. You’ll be spending a minimum of 48 hours in jail, and if your BAC was .20 or higher, that time is extended to a minimum of seven days. Your license can be revoked for one year, even on a first offense, and you’ll have to complete a mandatory alcohol treatment program. Penalties become harsher for each offense after, and they can even result in your vehicle being confiscated and included with other repo cars for sale. While the penalties for a DUI are harsh, you can do some things to fight for a better outcome after a Nashville DUI arrest.
Take the chemical test
An officer is required to have probable cause to pull you over under suspicion of drunken driving. Probable cause can include erratic driving or illegal maneuvers. When you are pulled over, the officer will generally ask you a series of questions and then request that you submit to a field sobriety test. This will often be a breath test so the officer can determine whether you’re actually impaired. Tennessee is an implied consent state, meaning that simply by driving, you have already agreed to such a test. While you may be able to refuse a test in some circumstances, it isn’t wise to do so.
If you fail your field test, or refuse to take it, you’ll be placed under arrest. Upon arriving at the station, you’ll be required to take the breath test. Continuing to refuse can result in a blood test, and there will be extra penalties for resisting.
Find a lawyer
Find a DUI attorney to take your case as soon as possible. Using a general attorney or public defender for this case isn’t advisable because of the complexity of DUI law. A good DUI attorney can negotiate with the prosecution and district attorney to try and find a more favorable outcome for your situation. Not hiring a lawyer is practically a guarantee that you’ll receive the harshest possible penalties, but a good lawyer may be able to reduce your charges or help get your conviction expunged, so it won’t affect your future as much.
If your drunken driving resulted in an accident, then you may also need to contact a car accident attorney in Nashville. It’s likely that a judge will order restitution for anyone you harmed or damages you caused while impaired.
Prepare for arraignment
You’ll generally have at least a couple of weeks to prepare before you’re required to enter a plea for a DUI case. It’s important to discuss possible defense strategies with your lawyer before your arraignment. No matter what, avoid pleading guilty. If you plead guilty, your lawyer can’t do anything for you, and the judge will sentence you then and there. By entering a plea of not guilty, you and your lawyer will be able to fight the charge. You may attempt to prove that you weren’t driving drunk, or your lawyer may argue the officer didn’t have probable cause for your arrest. Challenging the merits of the case is your best bet to receive a better outcome.