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Your Rights When You’re Pulled Over for a DUI

Moreland Law Firm Nov. 14, 2023

We know how it feels when those blue lights flash in your rearview mirror. It's a moment of panic, a surge of adrenaline, and a rush of questions all at once. But if you're being pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), it's especially important to stay calm and understand your rights. That's why we're here — to guide you through this stressful experience and help you protect yourself. 

At the Moreland Law Firm, we believe that knowledge is power. By understanding what you're up against, you can make informed decisions that will protect your rights and potentially affect the outcome of your case. Our Nashville defense attorney understands the fear and uncertainty that comes with a DUI stop. So don't worry, we're here to support you every step of the way. If you need legal representation, don't hesitate to give us a call.  

Your Rights When Pulled Over for a DUI in Tennessee 

It's difficult to know what to do when you see those flashing lights behind you. But it's important to remember that as a citizen, you have rights. Let's dive into some key ones to keep in mind if/when you get pulled over for a DUI:  

You Have the Right to Not Incriminate Yourself 

It's a fundamental principle of American law: you have the right to remain silent. This right protects you from self-incrimination, which means you're not required to answer any questions that might suggest you're guilty. So, when an officer asks if you've been drinking or where you've been, remember that you don't have to answer. Instead, politely tell the officer that you'd prefer to speak with an attorney before answering any questions. 

While it's crucial to exercise this right, it's equally important to do so respectfully. Even though you're choosing to remain silent, remember to maintain a cooperative attitude. This approach can help keep the situation from escalating further than it needs to.  

You Have the Right Against Unlawful Search and Seizure 

Another critical right you have during a DUI stop is protection against unlawful search and seizure. Officers must have a legitimate reason — known as "probable cause" — or a valid search warrant to search your vehicle. If they don't have either, any evidence they find may be deemed inadmissible in court. 

If an officer asks to search your car, remember you can refuse unless they produce a valid warrant. Stay calm and respectful throughout this interaction by politely declining the search and letting the officer know you understand your rights. Your demeanor can influence how the situation unfolds. 

You Have the Right to Refuse Testing

When facing a DUI stop, you also have the right to refuse certain tests, including field sobriety tests. These tests—such as walking in a straight line or standing on one leg—are used by officers to gauge your level of impairment. However, you're not legally required to perform them. 

Refusing these tests can prevent you from providing potential evidence against yourself. But remember, refusing could also lead the officer to rely on other observations, like slurred speech or the smell of alcohol, to establish probable cause for arrest. 

You also have the right to refuse a preliminary or portable breath test. This handheld device measures your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the scene. In New York, refusing this test won't lead to immediate penalties. However, it could lead to your arrest based on other evidence of impairment. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 20% of individuals suspected of DUI refuse to submit a BAC test. 

Refusing a chemical test at the police station after a lawful arrest can result in administrative penalties, such as license suspension. It's crucial to understand the differences between these tests and consult with a DUI attorney to fully understand the potential consequences of refusal. 

What You Should Do When You Get Pulled Over for a DUI

Getting pulled over for a DUI can be frightening, but knowing what to do in that situation can make all the difference. First, pull over safely as soon as you can. Stay in your vehicle and keep your hands visible. If the officer asks for your license and registration, provide them promptly. 

Remember, you have rights during a DUI stop. You can choose to remain silent, refuse to consent to a search without a warrant, and decline field sobriety and preliminary breath tests. But it's essential to assert these rights respectfully and calmly. 

Finally, after the stop, contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. They can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and help you navigate the road of criminal justice that lies ahead. 

Exercise Your Right to an Attorney

Remember, we're here to support you every step of the way. You don't have to face this alone. At the Moreland Law Firm, our experienced DUI defense attorney will fight for your rights and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us today at our Nashville, Tennessee, law firm to schedule a free consultation. We represent people throughout Franklin, Murfreesboro, Lebanon, Columbia, and Dickson.