Raybin & Weissman

What Nashville (Davidson County Tennessee) Police Officers don’t want you to know about avoiding a DUI

Nashville Metro Davidson County police officers are patrolling each night looking for persons that may be driving under the influence of alcohol. Here are the top ways to avoid getting a DUI.
1. Do NOT get into your vehicle if you are not immediately prepared to take a breathalyzer test. This one seems obvious, but far too many people go to a bar or restaurant with the plan to have one or two beers and end up having four or five beers or more. Public transportation is not an option for most in Nashville so many after five beers think they are fine to drive, but if they really considered that moments after getting into their car that they could be forced to submit to a breathalyzer and/or get arrested for DUI, chances are they would think differently. The best approach is obviously to always have a designated driver or use a taxi, but the discipline not to drink more than one or two drinks is sometimes the only reasonable choice.
2. Don’t give the Police a reason to pull you over. Even if you have only truly had a couple of beers, no one wants to be pulled over in the early morning hours and be questioned by a police officer. While Tennessee law says that no one should be required to submit to a breathalyzer unless the police officer has reasonable suspicion that such individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, chances are that if you are honest with the police officer that you have had a couple of beers, then the police officer is going to assume that you have underestimated the amount of alcohol that you have actually had (since many drivers do this) and you will find yourself being requested to perform field sobriety tests and the slightest misstep or failure to follow instructions is what the police officer is likely to use as a basis to require a breathalyzer test. One good way to avoid getting caught up in this, is by not violating any traffic laws. Police officers cannot just pull you over because you leave a bar at 2:00 a.m. They have to have a valid reason for pulling you over. In Nashville, it is common for police officers to patrol West End Avenue, 17th Avenue, 21st Avenue, Wedgewood Avenue, etc. in the early morning hours looking for persons having trouble driving under the 30 mph posted speed limit when there is very little traffic on the road. While speeding is not an indication of driving under the influence, it gives the officers a valid reason to pull you over. Other common reasons an officer might pull you over: driving on expired tags, driving without your lights on or with a headlight or taillight out, weaving, running a stop sign or red light, etc.


3. Field Sobriety Tests are optional: Since many have difficulty standing on one leg or walking a straight line on their best day, taking the field sobriety tests are usually not a great idea. While those that are particularly athletic and have good balance may actually help their case by completing the field sobriety tests, especially if such tests are recorded on videotape, many do not perform well on such tests and end up providing the State’s best evidence against them at trial. The tests are completely subjective and thus the police officer, who has likely already formed an opinion that the subject is under the influence, is likely to find reasons to fail a person on the field sobriety tests and charge the person with DUI. While police officers may not advise you that the field sobriety tests are optional, they are. Prior or current medical conditions are certainly good reasons to refuse the test. With that being said, if you refuse the test, the police officer is likely going to charge you with DUI and request that you submit to a breathalyzer so be prepared for that.
4. If you have truly only had one or two beers on a normal diet then you should submit to a breathalyzer. Far too many people operate under the misconception that you should never submit to a breathalyzer. The rule is better stated as “you should never submit to a breathalyzer test if you are drunk.” In reality if you are not drunk, the breathalyzer may be your best way to prove that you are not drunk. If you refuse a breath test, prosecutors will assume that you were drunk and will argue to the jury that you had something to hide. Breathalyzers do provide law enforcement with scientific evidence to use against you at trial so submitting to the test is nothing to be taken lightly, but it is extremely unlikely that you will register about the legal limit if you have truly only had one or two beers. I recognize breathalyzers can malfunction or give false readings, but Tennessee law (Tenn. Code Ann. 55-10-410(e)) provides that a person charged with DUI is entitled to have an independent blood sample taken by a medical laboratory at their own expense and blood test are far more reliable, so if the person believes breathalyzer results are inaccurate, they should immediately request that the police officer afford them the immediate opportunity to have a blood sample taken at their own expense.
5. If you are charged, hire a Nashville DUI attorney. Those charged with a DUI find that there are dozens of attorneys that will solicit their business that are more interested in getting paid to represent them then they are in going to court. Every DUI case is different and it is very important that you take the time to hire an attorney that understands Tennessee DUI law and will take the time to learn the facts of your case. Contact Vince Wyatt at (615) 256-6666 or vwyatt@hwylaw.com to schedule an appointment.