Traffic stops for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) usually happen when a cop has a reasonable suspicion that you are driving while drunk. Driving behaviors like swerving, slowing down for no apparent reason, or going outside your lane are all red flags. Facing DUI charges can be detrimental to your driving record depending on whether you have been charged with a DUI in the past. Knowing your rights during a DUI stop may be able to help you avoid more serious charges. Be sure to talk to a Tennessee criminal law lawyer to figure out what you can do in this situation. 

What Happens During a DUI Stop

When you are pulled over for suspected drinking while driving, there are a few things you can expect during a DUI stop. The important thing you should know about these kinds of stops is that an officer cannot arrest you unless there is a probable cause. This means you will likely be asked questions and will be told to perform different field sobriety tests.  

Be wary that when the officer is asking you questions, they will also be looking for behavioral signs of alcohol intoxication. Officers tend to look for the smell of alcohol, glazed eyes, open containers close to the driver’s seat, slurred speech, and problems with moving or walking. 

Field sobriety tests usually consist of nystagmus, standing on one leg, finger to nose, walk and turn, and the Rhomberg balance test. The nystagmus test will focus on your eye movements by having you follow a pen with your eyes. Standing on one leg involves you doing just that while counting out loud. A finger to nose test involves leaning your head back with your eyes closed while touching your finger to your nose. 

The Rhomberg balance test will have you stand straight up with your eyes closed and you will be told to tilt your head back. Any loss of balance during these tests will be highly suspect. Of course, there is also the famous breathalyzer test that reads the amount of alcohol in your body.

Protecting Your Rights During DUI Stop

Knowing your rights during a DUI stop can be important for avoiding worse charges and for avoiding self-incrimination. One way to avoid self-incrimination is to remember your 5th amendment rights. You do not have to answer every question an officer asks you because, according to Miranda rights, you have the right to remain silent. Remember that you do not have to provide any information other than your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance.


You have the right to politely decline any field sobriety tests and without a field sobriety test, many officers will not have the justification to give you a breathalyzer test. On the other hand, the last thing you want to do is be sarcastic or rude in any way. This can lead to escalation.