Maryville Breath Tests and Field Sobriety Tests Attorneys
Experienced and tenacious defense attorneys fighting for the freedoms of drivers throughout East Tennessee
A DUI arrest might seem like the end of the road for you as a driver, especially with the strict laws in place in Tennessee. Being pulled over for suspicion of DUI is a frightening situation. Depending on the officer, you might be asked to exit your vehicle to take part in field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are standardized nationwide by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This means that no matter where you are pulled over in East Tennessee, you will be administered the same tests and the NHTSA expects that all officers will conduct them in the same way.
When you have been accused of DUI, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Maryville DUI attorney about your case. The team at Shepherd & Long P.C. has decades of experience representing clients charged with DUI and other traffic-related offenses throughout East Tennessee. Let our DUI defense attorneys build a case in your best interest so you don’t lose your license, your freedom, or suffer damage to your reputation.
What you should know about Tennessee breath tests
Evidence from a breath test is only admissible in court when it is used to prove that there was probable cause for your arrest. Once you are brought to the police station you will be administered additional tests to determine your blood alcohol level.
In Tennessee, the state uses the Intoximeter EC/IR II as the official device for conducting a breath test. A fuel cell is used to measure a single breath from the subject. If the state’s protocol is not followed for the acquisition of the breath sample, the results could be ruled inadmissible in court. There are certain requirements that must be met in order for breath test results to be admissible in court:
- Was the operator of the device properly certified?
- Was the device certified and tested for accuracy?
- Was the test performed in accordance with standard operating procedures?
The legal limit in Tennessee is 0.08. However, if you were driving a commercial vehicle, the legal limit is 0.04. If you are under the age of 21 and have even the slightest trace of alcohol in your system, you will be charged with DUI.
What are the three typical field sobriety tests used in Tennessee?
You are not legally required to submit to field sobriety tests. You can decline them just like you can decline a blood or chemical test. It’s also important to note that an officer will not tell you that you can decline the field sobriety tests. The sole purpose of these tests is to prove that you were driving while intoxicated because of alcohol or drugs. It’s still possible to be charged with DUI even if you pass the tests.
The standard field sobriety tests are:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). An officer will shine a light in your eye or ask you to follow a pen or his/her finger as it’s moved from side to side. This is thought to be the most accurate test available because your eyeball movement is involuntary.
- Walk and Turn (WAT). The officer will ask you to walk a straight line, heel to toe, for nine steps; then, you will be asked to turn and walk back. This test looks for your ability to multi-task and ability to balance.
- One Leg Stand (OLS). You will be asked to stand and hold one foot up off the ground (usually six inches) in front of you for 30 seconds.
Officers administering these tests are looking out for certain signals that tell them you could be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If any of these signs are witnessed, and the officer has the results from a breath test, you can be placed under arrest for suspicion of DUI. Understand that you can be arrested for DUI if you “pass” the field sobriety tests. Should you be convicted, you will lose your license, face thousands of dollars in fines, and jail time.
What does “implied consent” mean when facing DUI charges?
You have legally given your consent to take part in a test that determines the blood alcohol level of your blood when you drive in Tennessee. This is what is known as the implied consent law. When an officer requests such a test, you must take part. If you refuse, the test will not be administered, and you will lose your license for 12 months.
I was pulled over for suspicion of DUI; what should I do?
If you are ever pulled over for suspicion of DUI in East Tennessee, it’s imperative that you take the following steps to protect your rights:
- Always be polite to the officer - your chances of things going smoothly increase when you are polite
- Cooperate - to an extent. Comply with reasonable requests from the officer
- Understand the implied consent law in Tennessee (see above)
- Invoke your Miranda rights
- Decline permission for the officer to search the vehicle without a warrant
- At your first opportunity, call a DUI defense attorney
What you should know about DUI checkpoints in East Tennessee
According to the Crime in Tennessee report for 2019 released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, there were 19,443 adults and 95 juveniles arrested for DUI. The majority of these arrests are due in large part to the DUI checkpoints that law enforcement agencies operate throughout the state at different times of the year. DUI checkpoints are a legal way for police officers to find offenders.
Should you be pulled over in a DUI checkpoint, you have the same rights as being pulled over in any other situation. It is within your rights to refuse a breathalyzer test, but if you do, you lose your driver’s license automatically under Tennessee law. It is also within your rights to refuse a search of your vehicle without the police having a warrant and to speak to an experienced DUI attorney. If the officer asks you to exit the vehicle and submit to field sobriety tests, you must do so.
Useful East Tennessee drunk driving resources
Below, you will find links to helpful resources related to DUI in East Tennessee.
- Tennessee Driver’s Handbook
- Tennessee codes related to drunk driving
- Brochure: Prevention of Drinking & Driving
- 18–20 Year Old Alcohol Beverage Violation—1st Offense
- 18–20 Year Old Alcohol Beverage Violation—2nd Offense
- Court Ordered Suspension
- Drug-Free Youth Act 1st Offense and 2nd Offense
- DUI 2nd Offense
- Tennessee DUI laws
Arrested for suspicion of DUI? Speak to a Maryville DUI defense attorney today
If you or a loved one was arrested for suspicion of DUI, it is in your best interest to speak to an experienced Maryville breath test attorney as soon as possible. The minute you are allowed to make a phone call, be sure it is to a member of the Shepherd & Long P.C., team in East Tennessee. We know how a DUI conviction can change your future and will fight to protect your freedom. Call our office at call 865-982-8060 or fill out our contact form to schedule a low cost consultation.