Tennessee DUI Glossary

Tennessee DUI Glossary

Arraignment: Sometimes referred to as the first appearance, the arraignment process requires you or your attorney to appear in court and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the crime charged.  If you are in Circuit Court, then you will be given an indictment and an opportunity to ask the State of Tennessee for discovery.

Arrest: Before the police can make an arrest, they must have probable cause to believe you have committed a misdemeanor in their presence.  Before the police can make a traffic stop, they must have probable cause that you have committed a traffic offense or reasonable suspicion, based on specific and articulable facts that you are driving under the influence.

Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs): FSTs are a series of tests conducted by the police to determine whether you are too impaired to drive.  You can refuse to take these tests.  If you agree to take these tests, you better be sure that you are not over the legal limit.  Police officers consider certain clues of impairment and will probably arrest you upon a showing of minimum clues.

Horizontal Gaze Nysgtagmus (HGN): The HGN is the very first field sobriety test someone should receive when asked to exit their vehicle to be investigated for driving under the influence.  When the officer is performing the HGN test, he is looking for an involuntary movement of the eyes.  According to the science, when a person is impaired, their eyes will make an involuntary movement while moving to focus on one thing, such as the tip of a pen.  Although this test is generally inadmissible in court, police officers consider this test the most accurate indicator of impairment. 

Implied Consent: Implied Consent is a state law that requires a person arrested for suspicion of DUI to give a blood or breath sample to determine their blood alcohol level.  If you refuse implied consent, the penalty is loss of your license for a year or more.

One Leg Stand (OLS): The OLS is the third standardized test someone should be asked to perform while being investigated for driving under the influence.  According to this test, the officer will give you specific instructions, which require a person to stand on one leg, while counting to 30.  The officer is looking for a series of clues in which to assess whether he/she believes you are impaired.  If the officer observes a minimum number of clues, that officer will likely place you under arrest for driving under the influence.

Walk and Turn (WAT): The nine step walk and turn (WAT) is usually the second field sobriety test someone should be asked to perform while being investigated for driving under the influence.  According to this test, the officer will give very specific instructions, which require a person to take nine heel-to-toe steps, with their arms at their sides, while counting out loud while walking.  The officer is looking for a series of clues in which to assess whether he/she believes you are impaired.  If the officer feels that you have shown a minimum number of clues, that officer will take that into consideration when conducting their investigation.