1. Why do I need a DUI Lawyer in Nashville, TN?

A conviction for DUI will have lasting consequences for the accused, and it may never be possible to expunge a DUI conviction. Some individuals are tempted to simply plead guilty if they believe they had too much to drink. However, a competent DUI attorney can make sure the police followed the law properly, and that any tests that were performed were accurately done. The government, like anyone, often makes mistakes. In the event of a DUI, these mistakes can be costly for the accused.

2. What are the DUI laws in Nashville, TN?

A DUI 1st offense in Tennessee is an A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail. In most cases, the jail sentence is the minimum 48 hours required by statute. A DUI conviction also results in the loss of driving privileges for one year, although your DUI attorney can assist you with obtaining a restricted driver's license.

3. How will a DUI in Nashville, TN affect me?

In addition to the criminal consequences, your driver's license will be revoked for one year upon conviction, and you will be required to obtain expensive SR-22 insurance. A DUI can also cause issues securing employment, as it will show up on background checks.

4. If I have a DUI can I still drive?

Yes, but only with a restricted license, ordered by the court and approved by the Department of Safety.

5. What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

Different states call their impaired driving laws different things. In Tennessee, our impaired driving law is titled Driving Under the Influence. Some states refer to this as Driving While Impaired. Additionally, Tennessee's law against impaired driving when the driver is under the age of 21 is actually called Driving While Impaired.

6. What will retaining a DUI attorney cost me?

Our fees vary on a case by case basis, depending on the complexity of the case. Generally speaking, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. In Nashville, the cost of a DUI attorney can range widely. My best advice is to consider that every attorney only has so much time in the day. If attorney A charges half the amount that attorney B charges, he only has half as much time to dedicate to each case and earn the same income. By far, the thing that will make the most significant difference in the outcome of your case is how much time your attorney invests in your defense.

7. Can someone be charged with a DUI after only one drink?

Absolutely, and it happens all the time. In fact, someone can be charged with a DUI without having had anything to drink, or without being the least bit impaired. A DUI charge doesn't mean you were actually impaired, of that you will be convicted of a DUI. It is merely an allegation, based on an officer's subjective beliefs and observations. Hiring a competent DUI attorney can ensure that your DUI arrest doesn't become a DUI conviction.

8. Can I get a DUI if I am under 21?

Yes. T.C.A. §55-10-415 lowers the per se allowable blood alcohol content to 0.02% for any drivers who are under the age of 21. Suffice to say, anyone stopped on suspicion of driving while impaired who is not 21 or older has a significantly higher chance of being arrested. If convicted, this particular offense is still an A misdemeanor but does not require the minimum 48 hours in jail.

9. When a police officer pulls me over and asks if I had been drinking, how should I answer him?

No. It's tempting to believe that if we're honest with police, it will work out in our favor. Plenty of people drive safely after having consumed alcohol responsibly. But making any statements about what you've had to drink will absolutely be used against you in a subsequent DUI prosecution. Additionally, you will likely be asked to perform field sobriety test. See our education center post, under DUI to learn why that would be a mistake.

10. What patterns do police look for when searching out intoxicated drivers on the road?

In addition to obvious erratic driving, the most common factors law enforcement seem to base DUI traffic stops on are 1) time of night, 2) location, 3) vehicle type, and 4) characteristics of the driver. If you are leaving an area populated by bars and restaurants, late in the evening, your chances of being pulled over are exponentially higher.

11. What are the stages of a criminal case in Nashville, TN?

Most criminal cases in Tennessee begin in General Sessions court. Most misdemeanors are resolved in General Sessions court, but don't have to be. Felonies and Misdemeanors that can't be resolved in General Sessions Court are bound over to the Grand Jury after a preliminary hearing. The Grand Jury then will bind those charges over to the Circuit Court level (called Criminal Court in Nashville and larger counties). This Circuit Court level is where jury trials occur.

12. How long does a criminal case take?

As lawyers are famous for saying, it depends. Some criminal cases can be resolved in a few weeks. Other criminal cases that go to trial may take years to resolve. The length of time a criminal case takes to resolve varies widely.

13. How does my criminal record affect me?

Your criminal history, even on dismissed charges, can have a major impact on your employment and housing options. Check out our post on expungement to learn more about cleaning up your record.

14. Can I be charged with a crime without being arrested?

Yes. Police officers have the option of issuing citations in lieu of an arrest for certain misdemeanor offenses. Officers in Nashville are more likely to take advantage of issuing misdemeanor citations than a smaller county, as those counties don't typically face the same level of overcrowding in their jails.

15. Can an officer make an arrest for a misdemeanor without witnessing the crime?

Under most circumstances, no. There are exceptions, however, such as domestic assault allegations, in which only the statement of the alleged victim is sufficient probable cause for an arrest.

16. Can I get an arrest off my record?

Whether or not you can expunge an arrest depends on whether or not you were convicted, and your criminal history prior to that arrest. Check out our post on expungement to learn more about cleaning up your record.

17. When do I need a lawyer for a criminal case?

As soon as possible. Time is of the essence in every criminal case. The sooner your criminal attorney can begin preparing your defense, the better your outcome will be.

18. What do I do if I am sure I am innocent of the charges?

An individual's belief about their innocence is much less relevant that what the government can prove about their culpability in the form of admissible evidence. In short, what can the State prove? While it's becoming harder to believe, our State and Federal Constitutions are still founded on the principle of "innocent until proven guilty."

19. Is rape the same as sexual assault?

No. Sexual assault is a broader category which contains various sexual offenses against a person. Rape is one of the most serious sexual assaults, but an individual does not need to be accused of rape in order to be accused of sexual assault.