First-Time DUI in Nashville: Navigating the Legal Process

Many drivers are not aware of the serious situation they’re facing when they get their first-time DUI in Nashville. When they eventually consult with a Nashville DUI lawyer, they tend to downplay the situation, believing that the law is lenient with first-time offenders.

And this is why they are shocked when they realize that they have to go to court and face a trial and potential jail sentence. Since leniency for the first-time DUI is such a widespread myth, we believe that it is time to set the matters straight and explain what you should expect:

1. Getting Pulled Over and Given a Breathalyzer Test

Police officers have the right to pull you over if they have probable cause that you are driving impaired. After you stop and show the officers your driver’s license and car registration, they will tell you to take a breathalyzer test.

Since Tennessee has an implied consent law for drivers, you do not have the legal option to refuse taking the test. If you do, the officer will confiscate your driver’s license on the spot. They will issue a paper license which is valid for just 7 days.

During this period, you have the right to schedule an administrative hearing to determine whether your license may be reinstated. If you do not schedule the hearing or if you lose it, then on the 8th day after your license was confiscated you no longer have the right to drive.

2. Failing the Breath Test and Arrest

If your blood alcohol content (BAC) indicated by the breathalyzer device exceeds the legal limit of 0.08%, the officer will charge you with driving under the influence (DUI). Next, the officer will formally place you under arrest and read your Miranda rights.

You will be taken to a police station, where you will pass through the booking procedure:

  • You will be photographed facing front and from profile
  • Your fingerprints will be recorded
  • Your full contact details will be written in a file

After booking, the police officer will interrogate you. At this point, you have the right to request a lawyer and to refuse giving any answer without legal counsel present. In most of the cases, you will be released on bail and will receive a notification regarding the first court date.

find out what happens if you are charged with DUI for the first time

3. The Arraignment

You should consult with a Nashville DUI lawyer as soon as you are released from arrest. Depending on the caseload of the court, your first court date may be scheduled within 1-2 weeks. You do not have a lot of time to start preparing your defense.

As a first-time DUI offender, you cannot expect any leniency from the judge or the prosecutor. You need to present all the facts to an attorney, who will advise you how to plead at the arraignment. You have three options:

  • Guilty
  • Not guilty
  • No contest

In most of the cases, the lawyer will instruct you to plead not guilty.

4. The Discovery Process and Plea Bargain Negotiations

After the arraignment, the judge will set a date for the beginning of your trial. From this point onwards, your lawyer and the prosecutor will exchange available evidence. During this period, the attorney will attempt to negotiate a favorable plea deal with the prosecutor.

If they do not have a strong case against you, they may agree to seek a lower charge, for example reckless driving. It is also possible for the lawyer to manage to get your case dismissed.

5. Courtroom Trial and Outcome

A trial for DUI usually lasts between 2 and 5 days. If you are found not guilty, your driving privileges will be reinstated immediately. If you are found guilty, here are the potential penalties for a first-time DUI in Nashville:

  • Minimum 48 hours and maximum 11 months and 29 days in jail
  • Fine between $350 and $1,500
  • 1 year license revocation
  • Participation in alcohol education programs
  • Installing an ignition interlock device in your car at your own cost

Consult with a Skilled Nashville DUI Lawyer as Soon as Possible after Being Charged!

As you can see, a first-time DUI in Nashville is not a minor issue. If you are convicted, you can end up with a permanent criminal record which cannot be expunged.

For this reason, you should consult with a Nashville DUI lawyer at Byron Pugh Legal as soon as you are released after booking and start building your defense.

As a new client, you benefit from a free case review, so call us today  at 615-255-9595!

Byron L. Pugh
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