In Tennessee, law enforcement has the authority to stop a vehicle if they have a reasonable suspicion of a law violation. This can include observed traffic infractions, erratic driving behavior, driving under the influence (DUI), or vehicle issues. Understanding Tennessee traffic laws is essential to appreciate why you might be stopped.
If you find yourself pulled over by the police in Tennessee, knowing your rights and appropriate actions is crucial. A DUI lawyer in Nashville, TN can help you navigate the complexities of a DUI stop.
What You Should Do When Pulled Over
1. Pull Over Safely and Turn Off the Car
When signaled by police, pull over to a safe area. Turn off your engine, roll down your window, and wait for the officer. This shows compliance and respect for safety procedures.
2. Present Your License and Registration
You are required to provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance when asked. Keep these documents in an accessible location to avoid unnecessary rummaging, which could be misinterpreted by the officer.
3. Politely Decline Permission to Search Your Car
You have the right to refuse consent to search your vehicle. Be polite but firm in your refusal. Remember, any evidence found in a search you consented to can be used against you.
4. Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
You are not obliged to answer incriminating questions. Politely stating, “I choose to exercise my right to remain silent” is a valid response.
5. Field Sobriety Tests are Voluntary
In Tennessee, you are not legally required to participate in field sobriety tests. These tests are subjective and can be unreliable. Politely declining to take these tests is within your rights.
6. Request to Speak to an Attorney
If you believe the situation could lead to legal consequences, request to speak to your attorney. Our Nashville DUI lawyer emphasizes the importance of legal counsel in such scenarios.
When a Traffic Stop Is Illegal
A traffic stop is deemed illegal if conducted without reasonable suspicion. In the context of Tennessee traffic laws, reasonable suspicion must be based on specific and articulable facts suggesting that the driver has violated the law.
Examples of illegal stops include:
- Racial Profiling: An illegal and unethical practice where stops are based solely on the race or ethnicity of the driver rather than any legal justification.
- Hunch-Based Stops: Law enforcement must have more than a mere hunch or guess to justify a stop. They require observable signs of legal violations, such as erratic driving, traffic infractions, or vehicle defects.
- Lack of Probable Cause: Stopping a vehicle without probable cause is a breach of legal protocols.
A DUI stop is a critical moment. Your actions and awareness of your rights can significantly impact the outcome. For personalized legal guidance and defense in Tennessee, contact the Law Office of Bryan Stephenson for a free consultation. Our Nashville DUI attorney can provide you with the defense strategy you need.