DUI Defense Attorney Located in Memphis, Tennessee

The Elements of DUI in Shelby County

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, it is critical that you have your case evaluated by an experienced criminal defense lawyer before you even think of speaking with a prosecutor in any kind of negotiation or a judge at any kind of proceeding. You should learn your rights and protect your interests before making any decisions that can affect the outcome of your case.

At the law office of Patrick E. Stegall, Attorney and Counselor at Law, I am here to aggressively represent you if you have been charged with DUI. I understand how to analyze every aspect of our cases to see if it fits within the elements of DUI law in Tennessee. To learn more about my skills and how I can help you, please contact me today to set up a free consultation at my Memphis office today.

The two most important elements of the Tennessee DUI law are:

  • The person must be driving, operating, or in physical control of the vehicle
  • A person must be “under the influence”

For the first element, the person does not have to actually be driving the car to be charged with a DUI, they must be in control of the vehicle, which means sitting in the car while it is parked still counts. Under the “physical control” element, the state does not have to prove that you ever drove the vehicle while under the influence.

The state must also prove that you became impaired and then placed yourself in a position to immediately put the vehicle in motion in order to say that you have fulfilled the “under the influence” element. A good example of this is being asleep in the car with keys in your pocket. If this occurs, you can be charged with a DUI because you were in control of the vehicle and were impaired because you were asleep.

It is important to note that, the term “under the influence” is a very controversial element. It is nothing but the conclusion of the arresting officer that you were drunk, even though your impairment may actually be drowsiness or some other condition not related to alcohol or drug use.

However, in court, the arresting officer can simply offer his or her opinion — it is up to the jury to decide whether you were legally under the influence. As your attorney, I am here to help challenge his opinion and provide alternative arguments that can explain your behavior.

Additionally, currently, there is no definition of “under the influence” in Tennessee. A blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more is a legal presumption of intoxication. This is more important than an actual fulfillment of being under the influence or than actually being impaired. “Under the influence” does not require proof of intoxication, but it does require proof that the driver consumed an intoxicating substance that lowers their ability to control an automobile..

I will see if we can dispute that the elements of DUI have been proven, using the standards that have not been firmly established by the legislature. I will also look into if the grounds for stopping you were reasonable, and if there are any other issues that may lead to your charges being reduced or dismissed.

DUI convictions carry stiff penalties that can affect every aspect of your life. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important to seek help quickly and be proactive. Contact me today to discuss your situation during a confidential, complimentary consultation.