What to do if you are pulled over for DUI

Being charged with driving under the influence is a serious matter. In Tennessee, you’ll face mandatory jail time even if it’s your first offense. You could spend as few as two days in jail or as much as 11 months and 29 days. Your license can be revoked for one year and you could be ordered to attend an alcohol and drug treatment program. DUI offenses and penalties vary from state to state, so understanding the basics is key. 

You’ll also be looking at a fine of $350 to $1,500 – but that could just be the beginning. By the time you pay towing, bail, attorney fees, high-risk insurance, court costs, school and reinstatement fees, the State of Tennessee estimates the average costs related to a DUI can add up to $4,900.

We highly recommend saving a lot of money, heartache and potential harm to yourself or other drivers by calling a cab, using a service such as Uber or Lyft, or designating a driver. But if you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, here are some things you can do:

Be polite

Remember police officers have a job to do. Being rude or arguing with them won’t make anything easier for either of you.

Remember your rights

Give the officer your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance but you are not required to answer any questions that might incriminate you. You can invoke your Fifth Amendment rights at any time, which means you don’t have to say anything at all.

If you do talk, don’t “overshare”

If you choose to answer questions, be direct and to the point. Don’t feel like you have to tell them where you’ve been or where you’re going, and don’t attempt to explain that you “only had one.” Additionally, set all of your social media to “private” and consider deleting posts.

Say ‘no thank you’ to a field sobriety test

While officers likely won’t tell you, field sobriety tests are voluntary. They’re also unscientific and subjective. This means it’s up to an officer to judge how well you can walk. If an officer smells alcohol on your breath, it’s very likely you’ll be arrested. Don’t attempt to prove to them – on the side of the road, possibly in the dark with flashing lights in your face – that you’re sober.

Call a DUI attorney

As soon as possible, contact a local attorney. Share with him or her key details such as

  • when, where and why you were initially pulled over
  • whether you were given a field sobriety test
  • whether you were given a breathalyzer test
  • what information you shared with the officer
  • if there were witnesses


If you need information about DUI law or would just like to better understand the law, contact The Law Offices of Joshua T. Crain.