You are on the road, on your way home from the bar when suddenly you see flashing lights following you at a close distance. That is unexpected. You only had one or two drinks, so there’s no way you are being pulled over for drunk driving. Hoping for the best, you pull over and the police officer approaches your vehicle.
Here is what happens next.
The officer suspects you of DUI
You’re now pulled over to the side of the road and an officer is knocking on the window. You roll it down and engage with the officer. He tells you that he suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol because your driving showed signs of impairment. Confused, you tell him that you are sober. Unfortunately, he tells you that you also made an inappropriate lane change prior to the stop, so he has reason to suspect you of drunk driving. You find this unreasonable, but because it is your word against his, you feel that you must comply.
The officer asks for more information
Now that the reason for the stop has been ascertained, the officer asks you to provide proof of your license and registration. As you go for your license and registration, you are careful to not show any signs that would cause suspicion of impairment, as you know the officer is watching your every move. Upon finding the documents, you hand them over and the officer returns to his vehicle to process them. At this point, you are certainly hoping that the traffic stop ends and you can go on with your drive home.
However, it is not over yet. The officer returns to your vehicle and asks you to exit. When you get out, he begins asking you a line of questions about the moments leading up to the stop. He starts by asking, “Have you had anything to drink tonight?” You respond honestly — “Yes, I’ve had a few beers, but that was hours ago.” The officer scoffs at your response. You assume he’s heard that a million times before, but this is the truth in your case. The police officer states that your act of confirming that you have been drinking gives him further suspicion, so he will continue by administering sobriety tests.
The field sobriety tests (FST)
Field sobriety tests are standardized tests that are designed to gauge the level of impairment a motorist is experiencing.
Some tests you are subjected to include:
The officer is not convinced you’re sober, so he administers the breath test.
The roadside breath test
To confirm whether you have indeed been drinking before you decided to drive, the officer will administer a preliminary alcohol screening. This test, often called a breathalyzer or breath test, measures the level of your blood alcohol content using a breath sample. Maybe you don’t know that you can refuse this test, so you blow into the machine, which registers a .09. The officer’s next step is to cuff you and put you in the back of the car, and takes you to the police station.
What happens at the station?
You spend some time waiting around for the process to move forward. The officer has your driver’s license at this point, and you will not get it back. Some people interact with you and tell you that the next step is for you to take a chemical test. In every state, including Tennessee, implied consent laws require people arrested for DUI to submit to these tests. You may or may not be informed that refusing these tests may result in additional consequences; it depends on the exact circumstances of the stop.
Note that chemical tests may be performed within a certain amount of time. Failure to conduct the test within that time frame may render the results invalid.
The police then book you for the citation and you stay in jail for a certain period of time. How long you are required to stay in jail depends on the circumstances of the DUI. Though, you can expect it to be an entire day or more in some cases. For example, someone arrested on a Friday may need to remain in jail until the next week begins. Being released sooner typically only occurs when you get bailed out by somebody.
You can fight DUI charges, but it can be a mistake to do it on your own. To get the best chance at a positive result, you should hire a lawyer to represent you. A Franklin DUI attorney will ask the right questions of the arresting officer, and ensure that the proper care was taken to preserve your blood sample.
A Franklin DUI attorney, such as those on the legal team at the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, will have substantial experience dealing with these kinds of cases. Call our office at 615-977-9370, or submit our contact form to schedule an appointment with a criminal defense attorney today. We operate offices in Franklin, Columbia, and Brentwood to better serve our clients.