Receiving a DUI charge can be terrifying. Being convicted of a DUI charge can negatively impact your future, making it harder to find housing or employment.
If you're charged with a DUI, understanding your rights is a necessity. Today, we're giving out our best tips on what you should do when charged with a DUI to increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.
Know the Name of the Game: Probable Cause
Perhaps the most important factor in DUI cases is probable cause. The Cornell Legal Information Institute defines probable cause as:
"a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed (for an arrest) or when evidence of the crime is present in the place to be searched."
In other words, the law enforcement professional (LEP) who pulled you over and charged you with a DUI must have a legally defensible reason for doing so. Often, officers use erratic driving behavior or the failure of roadside, blood, and chemical tests as probable cause for charging someone with a DUI.
Essentially, the less information you give police throughout the DUI process, the less evidence they have to use against you as probable cause. This is why lawyers typically suggest that drivers refuse certain tests (although they will often advise clients to take breath and chemical tests due to Tennessee's implied consent laws), and talk to the officers as little as possible.
If you have any resources that can prove you were not driving erratically at the time of your arrest (like a dashcam), keep that footage handy and share it with your lawyer.
Generally, it's a good idea to confer with your lawyer before giving any information to LEPs. The less probable cause you give officers, the better.
Speak with Your Lawyer About the Chances of Getting Your Charges Reduced
First-time DUI offenders can often get their a DUI charge reduced to a less substantial charge, like a wet reckless.
If you get charged with a DUI, hire a good DUI lawyer and speak with them about reducing your charges. Tennessee has harsh DUI penalties, even for first-time offenders. The penalty for a first-time DUI is a one-year license suspension, which can make getting to locations like work difficult even if you get a restricted license. A reduced charge, like reckless driving, won't necessarily carry the same penalties.
Additionally, a DUI charge can impact your professional and personal life more severely than a reduced charge.
Evaluate All Your Options
No DUI case is the same. Making certain concessions, such as taking an extra defensive driving class or installing an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car, may help you receive a more favorable court judgment.
Speak with your lawyer to explore all your options and pursue an outcome that enables you to continue living your life.
At Patton & Pittman Attorneys, our experienced DUI attorneys are committed to helping Tennessee natives tackle DUI cases.
To learn more or schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (931) 361-4477.