Have you or a close friend or family member recently been charged with a DUI? If so, it is important for you to understand what a DUI is, the legal ramifications of these charges, and what your rights are in the state of Tennessee.
What is a DUI?
The first step in understanding your rights as they relate to a DUI is understanding what, exactly, a DUI consists of. A DUI (Driving Under The Influence) is a criminal offense that occurs when you have been found to be either a) driving while alcohol is impairing you mentally and physically, or b) driving with a blood alcohol content over .08, even if the alcohol has not impaired your ability to drive.
What are the legal ramifications of a DUI in Tennessee?
In the state of Tennessee the penalties and fines for a DUI charge vary depending on a variety of factors. First time DUI offenders face anywhere from 48 hours to 11 months of jail time, fines ranging from $350 to $1,500, mandatory participation in a drug and alcohol treatment program, and one year revocation of their driver’s license, in addition to other penalties.
Second time offenders may be penalized with anywhere from 45 days to 11 months and 29 days in jail, mandatory fines ranging from $600 to $3,500, potential installation of an Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle, and potential vehicle seizure, in addition to other penalties. Third time DUI offenders face similarly increased penalties which include 120 days to 11 months, 29 days of jail time, mandatory fines ranging from $1,100 to $10,000, six to ten year license revocation, potential installation of an Ignition Interlock Device and potential vehicle seizure, in addition to other penalties.
DUI offenders reaching fourth or subsequent charges face class E felony charges, one year of jail time, an eight year license revocation, potential Ignition Interlock Device installation, potential vehicle seizure, and other penalties.
What are my rights?
As you can see, the legal ramifications of a DUI charge can be extremely serious—resulting in jail time, hefty fines, and even loss of a driver’s license—which is why it is important to know your rights if you are pulled over for a suspected DUI.
If you are suspected of driving under the influence, the officer will ask you investigative questions to see if an arrest is necessary. These questions might include things like “Have you been drinking?” or “How much have you had to drink?” At this stage, you are not protected by Miranda Rights, since no arrest has been made; however, you have no legal obligation to answer these questions. If you can honestly answer that you have not been drinking, then by all means do so. However, if this is not the case, it is best to politely inform the officer that you are choosing to remain silent.
If you are placed under arrest, the arresting officer is required by law to inform you of your Miranda Rights if they intend to intentionally question you further in a custodial interrogation. During this interrogation you have the right to speak with an attorney, as well as the right to remain silent. However, if you have been informed of these rights, anything you choose to say to the arresting officer can be used to charge you.
If the arresting officer does NOT inform you of your Miranda Rights and proceeds with an intentional custodial interrogation, anything that you say can potentially be excluded from evidence. However, any incriminating statements that you make in casual conversation can be potentially used against you as evidence.
Do you need an attorney?
If you have recently been arrested for driving under the influence and would like to consult with a DUI lawyer in the Gallatin area, Ken Phillips Family Law is here advise you. Feel free to contact us today about a legal consultation or legal representation regarding DUI charges.