Here in Middle Tennessee during the month of June, we are fortunate to host two of the most popular music festivals each year. Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee and the Country Music Festival right here in Nashville.
A variety of people travel from all over for a long weekend to enjoy what each festival has to offer. The population of Nashville and Manchester increases substantially during those times.
While both festivals are filled with musical enjoyment of a long list of artists (Bonnaroo Lineup, CMA Lineup), there are still caution flags that festival goers should keep in mind. With the ongoing festivities and the abundance of highway travel comes the rise in DUIs.
A Driving Under the Influence charge is a serious offense that should not be taken lightly. Most people think a DUI would never happen to them, however the ugly truth is that a DUI can happen to anyone who drives after consuming alcohol, even if you feel you are “safe to drive.”
After all, most of my clients are initially pulled over for reasons other than poor driving.
How to Avoid a Traffic Stop
So how can you avoid unwanted contact with a police officer?
- The best and most obvious answer is to avoid drinking alcohol before driving. Not only is this the safest course of action for yourself and those around you, a trainer officer can detect the odor of alcohol on your breath long after you had the last sip.
- The next focus is keeping your vehicle in proper working order. Police officers are always on the lookout for simple infractions, such as an expired tag, a nonworking taillight or headlight, excess tint, or basic moving violations like speeding or failing to signal a lane change. Once you are stopped, the officer may claim to detect an odor of alcohol or illegal substance, which will allow them to ask you to perform field sobriety tests
Things to Know if You’re Pulled Over for a Traffic Stop
- Although you may be released if you pass a field sobriety test, the Tennessee Supreme Court has held that you can still be arrested for DUI even if you pass the tests!
- If the officer still believes there are grounds for a DUI arrest, the officer will ask you to submit to a blood or breath test to determine the concentration of alcohol in your blood.
- When the officer request a drivers consent to one of these tests, the driver has two options under the Implied Consent Law, T.C.A § 55-10-406. The driver may either give consent and allow the officer to proceed with the test, or the driver may refuse.
- If the driver consents, the result of the test may become admissible evidence that could either exonerate the driver, establish guilt of DUI, or allow you to negotiate for a reduced charge if the result is borderline.
- If the driver refuses, they will almost certainly be arrested for a DUI. The State can still attempt to convict based on the officer’s testimony and any video that may exist from the dashcam. They will also be charged with violating Tennessee’s Implied Consent law.
- The Implied Consent law essentially states that by operating a vehicle, all drivers consent to giving a breath or blood test if an officer suspects the driver may be intoxicated. If a driver “withdraws” this consent by refusing to perform a test, the driver is subject to a loss of driving privileges for one year. Therefore, if a driver has nothing to hide and has not been drinking when they are pulled over, it is best to take the test to avoid this punishment.
If you are not sure whether taking a test would be in your best interest, you should not be driving in the first place. Therefore, I strongly suggest asking this question before you get in the car. A cab or Uber/Lyft is just a call away.
With the fast approach of Bonnaroo and the CMA festival, take time to plan out your weekend and how you will go about attending the festivities. Hire a driver, get a non-drinking friend to be a designated driver, camp out at Bonnaroo, or get a hotel room in Nashville and take a taxi or Uber/Lyft.
Do not take the risk and get behind the wheel after a long eventful day when you have been drinking. It is simply not worth it.
If you do find yourself in this situation, don’t wait until your court date to get legal representation. Consult with a qualified criminal attorney to ensure you get the best results.
Stay safe and enjoy the music.