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Knox County Criminal Defense LawyerBeing pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving is never a fun experience. Typically, police officers ask a series of questions to drivers suspected of driving under the influence, including “Have you had anything to drink tonight?” Regardless of the answer, the officer may ask the subject to perform a series of field sobriety tests. These tests are intended to assess a person’s intoxication level. However, medical problems, injuries, and even obesity can prevent a person from completing field sobriety tests accurately.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests are physical actions that a person suspected of driving under the influence may be asked to perform. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognizes a battery of three different tests as “Standardized Field Sobriety Tests” or “SFSTs.” One requires the person to stand on one foot without falling over or putting the other foot down. Another requires the person to visually follow a moving object while the officer assesses the driver for signs of “horizontal gaze nystagmus,” an involuntary eye movement indicative of intoxication. The third test requires the driver to walk heel-to-toe along a straight line while counting steps, then to turn and walk back along the same line to the starting point.

In some cases, officers will deviate from the SFSTs and ask the drivers to recite the alphabet or count numbers backwards to assess their cognitive functioning. These types of tests have even lower degrees of reliability as evidence in DUI cases.

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Blount County DUI LawyerAlcohol consumption is a common part of life for many people in the United States and throughout the world, used in everything from social gatherings to religious ceremonies. Responsible consumption is often relatively harmless, but excessive drinking can pose increasing risks for both drinkers and the people around them.

Those who drink alcohol have a legal responsibility to refrain from driving while inebriated. In Tennessee, the legal limit for driving a private vehicle is a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08. If you are found to have a BAC of 0.08 or higher, you can face legal consequences in the form of charges for driving under the influence (DUI). However, alcohol can begin to affect one’s body even at BAC levels below 0.08, and the effects increase at higher concentrations. If you drink alcohol, you should familiarize yourself with these different stages.

Physiological Effects of Different BAC Levels

Every person handles alcohol differently, which means that one person with a certain BAC might feel different effects than another person with the same BAC. An individual’s metabolism, size, body weight, genetic and acquired tolerance, and many other factors could affect how your body processes alcohol.

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Knoxville DUI defense attorneyFor most young adults, college is an exciting time, the first real steps of adulthood. Not only are the class schedules different from what students were used to during high school, but for many, living on campus or in off-campus housing is the first time they are living away from their parents.

But having all this freedom – along with the new challenges college students face – can sometimes lead to bad choices, like drinking or using cannabis products. This can lead to charges of DUI if a student makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel of a car while they are under the influence.

Tennessee Laws

Under Tennessee law, if a person is convicted of DUI, even a first offense can result in mandatory jail time, up to 12 months, depending on the circumstances of the crime. If the driver is under the legal drinking age of 21, there could be additional criminal charges resulting in even harsher penalties if convicted.

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Knoxville boating under the influence attorneyAs summer approaches, many Knox County residents are eager to make their vacation plans. Whether you are planning travels to new states or countries or are prepping for backyard barbecues with friends and family at home, there are many rules to remember to stay safe this summer — especially if you plan to go boating. A sunny boat day may be the perfect way to kick off summer for many Tennesseans, so reviewing the state laws for drinking and boating is essential. Just like driving a car, operating a boat comes with strict drinking laws to keep everyone safe for the summer.

Review of Drinking and Boating Laws

Drinking and boating laws are similar to drinking and driving laws. Although it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in your car, it is legal to drink on a boat. Like driving, any individual operating the boat must remain within the legal alcohol limit, a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of 0.08 percent in Tennessee. Any BAC over the 0.08 percent threshold is over the legal limit and can be grounds for a BUI offense. Boaters in Tennessee give their implied consent to have their BAC tested.

Most BUI offenses are charged as a Class A misdemeanor, but the repercussions can vary depending on various factors. Aggravating factors, such as repeat offenses or other illicit drugs located on the boat can worsen a BUI sentence. A first offense can lead to $2,500 in fines, 11 months of jail time, and up to one year of a suspended boating license. A second offense may lead to a boating license suspension for two years. Any subsequent violations will lead to $5,000 in fines and extended boating license suspension. BUIs can also be charged as a federal offense by the Coast Guard.

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Knoxville DUI defense lawyerOne of the most common pieces of evidence used by prosecutors in DUI cases is the result of the defendant’s breathalyzer test. However, a skilled Knox County defense attorney knows that it is not uncommon for breathalyzers to give false readings. While breathalyzer testing is more accurate than other subjective field sobriety tests, breathalyzer tests can still be incorrect or inaccurate.

Breathalyzer Testing

When you are pulled over and the police officer has probable cause that you have been drinking, the officer can administer a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer test is a chemical test that assesses how much alcohol vapor is on the breath of the individual taking the test. This data generally correlates to an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level.

Tennessee is an implied consent state, meaning that by accepting a driver’s license that grants them the right to operate a vehicle, a driver automatically consents to be subjected to chemical testing when suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. Individuals do have a right to refuse a breathalyzer test, but there are steep consequences for refusal.

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