Tennessee law enforcement uses sobriety checkpoints ostensibly to enforce DUI (driving under the influence) laws, but they have created a lot of controversy because what they often end up creating a dragnet to catch drivers who might have a broken headlight, are driving without wearing a seatbelt or may have lapsed insurance. Regardless as to why they conduct them, if you drive in Tennessee you are likely to encounter one, so we are sharing some tips on the things you should know before you find yourself in the awkward position of getting caught in a DUI checkpoint in Tennessee:
- Take a breath and remain calm. Appearing to be overly nervous with shaky hands and voice will just raise the police officer’s suspicions. Keep your hands on the steering wheel where the office can see them, speak slowly and with as much calm as you can muster. If you were in line at a checkpoint it would be smart to get your paper work out so that you do not have to fumble nervously while a police officer beams a flashlight into your window. If you must get your documents out of the glove box, announce what you are getting ready to do and hand the documents to them.
- Remain silent. Given that it is a sobriety checkpoint, the officer might ask you questions about where you have been, what you have been doing and where you are going. Remain silent. You are not required by law to answer these questions because everything you say will be used against you later. After you have given them your license and registration, you are not required to say anything else.
- You can legally refuse to take a field sobriety test. If the police ask you to step outside of your vehicle and perform a field sobriety test, you are within your rights to refuse to take them, and there is not any kind of legal penalty if you refuse.
- Refuse to allow them to search your vehicle. The law does allow law enforcement to pull you over, however they will need probable cause, your permission or a warrant before they can search your vehicle. Refuse to give your consent if they ask to search your vehicle.
By law, the checkpoint enforcement dates and locations must be published in advance. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security publishes their Checkpoint Enforcement schedule on their website.
If you are planning to attend a gathering where you know that you will be drinking alcohol, it is easy to arrange for a ride home to avoid drinking and driving. The NHTSA has developed a mobile app called SaferRide, which is available on Google Play for Android devices and at iTunes for IOS devices. The app allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend. The app identifies the user’s location so that they can be picked up.
To avoid ending up with a DUI in Tennessee:
- Be sure to always have a designated driver arranged early.
- Call a ridesharing service for a ride home
- Keep your party at home
If you find yourself having been arrested on suspicion of DUI, do not hesitate to contact a Maryville DUI lawyer at Shepherd & Associates immediately.
Getting charged with DUI is a sobering experience (pun intended). With your future at stake, you want to work with a smart Maryville DUI attorney who will calm your fears and give you solid legal guidance about how you can move forward. You are welcome to contact Shepherd and Associates, P.C. by filling out this contact form or by calling 865.225.9655. Let’s discuss your future, today.