Defenses to Charges of Drugged Driving in Sevierville In Tennessee, driving under the influence does not only mean the influence of alcohol. Whether a driver is impaired by alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medication, a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) can apply.

State law prohibits a person from driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle under either of the following conditions:

  • The person has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater (.04% or more if the driver was operating a commercial vehicle), or
  • The person is “under the influence” of any intoxicant, marijuana, controlled substance, controlled substance analog, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system, or combination thereof.”

Although one statute prohibits both drunk and drugged driving in Tennessee, the evidence in a drugged driving case may be different than the evidence presented in an alcohol DUI case. Unlike alcohol, a breathalyzer test cannot determine the existence or the amount of a controlled substance in a person’s system. However, chemical test results from a blood sample may be used as evidence that the defendant was driving while drug-impaired. The arresting officer could also be called to give testimony regarding the defendant’s completion of field sobriety tests and the officer’s observations of their driving, behavior, and appearance during the stop.

The consequences of drugged driving in Tennessee

Even drivers who take drugs legally for medical purposes can be charged with DUI if they have prescription medication in their systems and cause a car accident. In addition, anyone pulled over and suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs in Tennessee must submit to a chemical and/or field sobriety test. A driver can refuse these roadside tests; however, this choice may result in being arrested on suspicion of DUI. Following an arrest, a driver will usually be asked to take a chemical blood alcohol test at the police station or through blood being drawn at a hospital, and refusal of these tests will result in driver’s license revocation for at least one year.

Those caught operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Tennessee may face severe legal penalties, including jail time, hefty fines, DUI School and/or Victim Impact Panel, possible Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation, and license revocation. A fourth or subsequent DUI will result in a felony charge.

A DUI conviction will also appear on a person’s driving record and show up on background checks, potentially leading to other severe consequences, such as:

  • Increased automobile insurance premiums
  • Inability to rent a car from a commercial agency
  • Loss of a professional license (such as doctor, lawyer, nurse, stockbroker, or pilot)
  • Restriction of the ability to obtain or maintain possession of a firearm
  • Difficulty obtaining employment, obtaining credit, and being accepted into college

For these reasons, it is critical to try and avoid a DUI conviction by retaining an experienced Tennessee DUI lawyer immediately following an arrest.

Common drugged driving defenses

If you have been arrested for DUI, it is critical to remember that not every DUI arrest leads to a conviction. To convict a driver of a DUI in Tennessee, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they operated a motor vehicle or were in actual physical control of a vehicle while impaired by a drug. An experienced Sevierville criminal defense attorney will evaluate the evidence in the case to develop a strategy that may result in an acquittal or the dismissal of the case.

Here are some common defenses to drugged driving charges:

  • Offer proof that you suffer from a medical condition that can cause symptoms consistent with drug intoxication. Sometimes signs of drug-related impairment can be caused by other factors, such as fatigue or an illness.
  • Show that the chemical testing performed may have been inaccurate. For example, if proper procedures weren’t followed when your blood was drawn or analyzed, the test result could have been tainted or erroneous.
  • You may have had the substance in your body, but you were not intoxicated. Even if your blood test showed positive for a controlled substance, various people absorb drugs differently. While you might have had a controlled substance in your system, the prosecutor still must provide evidence of your impairment, e.g., erratic driving.
  • Demonstrate that the arresting officer lacked the proper training to make a DUI arrest involving drug use. For example, if you were not read your Miranda rights when you were stopped, or the officer had no reasonable suspicion to arrest you, that could indicate inadequate knowledge or training.
  • Make the argument that the initial stop was not legally justified. If the officer did not have probable cause for the traffic stop, it might have been illegal. In some ways, a drugged driving charge can be more subjective than a DUI charge related to alcohol. Drugged driving cases depend on a law enforcement officer’s observations that might suggest impairment.

If you’re facing a DUI charge involving drugged driving in Tennessee, it’s important to remember that you are presumed innocent under the law, and an aggressive and knowledgeable Sevier County criminal defense attorney can protect your rights. At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we defend those accused of DUI, whether the charge involves alcohol, drugs, or both. Please call 865-428-8780 or fill out our contact form to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys (or to request an in-custody visit). Our firm has served clients in and around Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge for over two decades.