Driving under the influence, or "DUI," is one of the most serious and aggressively prosecuted crimes in the state of Tennessee. Although a first offense DUI is a misdemeanor, a DUI first offense conviction has lasting consequences. In Tennessee, there are two ways the State can prove someone guilty of DUI. The DUI statute, Tennessee Code Annotated 55-10-401, is reproduced below:
(a) It is unlawful for any person to drive or to be in physical control of any automobile or other motor driven vehicle on any of the public roads and highways of the state, or on any streets or alleys, or while on the premises of any shopping center, trailer park or any apartment house complex, or any other premises that is generally frequented by the public at large, while:
(1) Under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system or combination thereof that impairs the driver's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of himself which he would otherwise possess; or
The first method of proving DUI is to show that the person was either driving or in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of a substance that produces a stimulating effect on that person's central nervous system or impairs the drivers ability to safely operate the motor vehicle. Thus, under this method of proving DUI, the State must produce evidence of the driver's impairment. This is typically done with officer testimony as to the driver's driving, behavior, appearance, smell, ability to interact with the officer, the driver's performance on any field sobriety tests the driver was given, and so on.
(2) The alcohol concentration in the person's blood or breath is eight-hundredths of one percent (.08 %) or more.
The second, and far more common method of proving DUI is by introducing chemical evidence of the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC), which at 0.08 or higher, constitutes DUI per se in Tennessee. Officers can test a driver's BAC by breath test, blood test, or urine test. Additionally, medical providers may take a blood sample if the driver needs medical treatment. Under most circumstances, submitting to a chemical test is voluntary, but a driver's refusal could lead to an implied consent violation and other consequences.
Defending those accused of DUI is complex and challenging. If you or someone you care for is accused of DUI in Bartlett or elsewhere, be sure to select a skilled criminal defense attorney who understands and is comfortable debunking DUI theory and science.
About a third of my practice is devoted to DUI/DWI defense. I offer free initial DUI consultations and accept work in the following West Tennessee counties:
- Shelby County
- Tipton County
- Fayette County
- Lauderdale County
- Haywood County
- Hardeman County
- Dyer County
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