There is probably nothing worse than that feeling you get when you see those red or blue flashing lights in your mirror as you’re driving home from a nice evening out with friends. Maybe you’re wondering why you’re even being pulled over, and then you remember that glass of wine you had with dinner. You quickly realize that the next few minutes could change your life forever, and not in a good way.
If you are pulled over, you should always be cooperative with authorities, but remember you are under no obligation to answer questions that could incriminate you. Remember, police can’t pull you over without a legal reason in the first place. Following are some examples that can justify a stop or arrest for a DUI in Tennessee.
- Car crashes. After a car accident, the police will typically show up. Authorities are trained to look for any evidence of impairment or intoxication on the part of the driver—no matter who’s at fault—when investigating the details of an accident.
- Suspiciously bad driving. It probably goes without saying that some people are just bad drivers. However, there are many clear signs of impairment, like random swerving, driving under the speed limit, and driving the wrong way. In order to stop you for bad but not illegal driving, the driving must rise to a level that gives the investigating officer articulable reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence. There are hundreds of cases in Tennessee jurisprudence setting forth what is—and what is not—suspicious driving, and a skilled DUI practitioner can help determine whether the officer’s reason for the stop was constitutionally sufficient.
- Traffic violations. Police can pull you over for any sort of traffic violation. During that traffic stop, however, if the officer notices any signs of intoxication, a simple traffic stop can evolve into a DUI investigation. An officer can pull over a vehicle if he has either reasonable suspicion or probable cause of a traffic violation. The most common traffic violations leading to DUI stops are speeding and lane violations.
- Reasonable suspicion. Police must have at least reasonable suspicion that someone is breaking the law when they pull someone over. This could be something minor like a traffic violation—perhaps speeding, running a stop sign, or missing a tail light—or more serious, like suspicion of drunk driving.
- DUI checkpoints. There is one place where authorities can legally pull you over without reasonable suspicion, and that’s at DUI checkpoints. The Supreme Court has ruled that these checkpoints are not a violation of our Constitutional rights, and any driver is subject to sobriety checks. The court’s ruling stated that the general good of keeping intoxicated drivers off the road outweighs the inconvenience to other motorists. It is important to know, however, that not all detentions or detainments at sobriety checkpoints are legal. In Tennessee, such checkpoints must be set up according to strict protocol and any variation can result in the checkpoint being illegal. Further, you may avoid a checkpoint and that alone cannot form the basis for a stop of your vehicle.
In most cases, if the officer did not have a legal reason to stop your vehicle, the DUI charges against you will be dismissed. However, an aggressive attorney must litigate these matters in order to obtain the best results.
Were your rights were violated during a DUI arrest? You need strong legal representation. The Sevierville DUI defense attorneys at Delius & McKenzie, PLLC can help. Call us at (865) 428-8780 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We proudly serve clients in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge.
Attorney Bryan E. Delius was born and raised in Sevier County, TN. He founded Delius & McKenzie more than 20 years ago, after receiving his JD from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is admitted in Tennessee and in several federal court systems. Learn more about Bryan E. Delius.