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What you Need to Know about Tennessee DUI Laws

Posted on December 10, 2022 in

An arrest and conviction for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol charge can be life-altering, even if no injuries take place. A DUI conviction is permanently on the driver’s record and never comes off. A serious conviction such as this can alter their ability to get jobs, pay their more expensive insurance premiums, and travel.

The Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony DUIs in Tennessee

In Tennessee, the amount of jail time one receives is the main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. A misdemeanor DUI carries less than a year’s sentence, usually spent in the county jail. This may only be one day less than a year because 11 months and 29 days is the maximum sentence.

A felony DUI carries a year or longer sentence and is usually spent in the state prison. By the time a person is sentenced to a felony DUI, they have typically already had three misdemeanor DUI convictions.

DUI Charges and Their Penalties if Convicted

Penalties for a first-offense DUI can be expensive and make life much more difficult. Not being able to drive, the negative blot on a criminal record, and possible jail time accompanied by hefty fines can complicate the driver’s life in many ways.

First-Offense DUI

A first-time offender can expect the following:

  • 48-hour sentence to a workhouse or county jail
  • Fines between $350 and $1500
  • Revoked driver’s license for one year
  • Required attendance at a victim impact panel and alcohol safety program
  • Probation of 11 months and 29 days

Second-Offense DUI

Second-offense DUI convictions are more severe and carry the following penalties:

  • Minimum of 45 days in jail with a maximum of a year minus a day
  • Fine of between $600 and $3500
  • Forfeiture of their vehicle to the state of Tennessee
  • If this offense occurred within five years of the first offense, the driver would be required to have an ignition interlock for the first six months after getting their driver’s license reinstated.
  • Required attendance at a state-approved DUI school that they pay for out of their pocket
  • The driver may also be compelled to attend a drug or alcohol program at their own expense.
  • Community service hours may also be a part of the sentence

Third-Offense DUI

Neither the judge nor the prosecutor can show leniency at this point. And the convictions will carry a mandatory sentence as follows:

  • Minimum of 120 days in jail
  • Maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days
  • If a minor passenger were in the vehicle when the DUI arrest occurred, the driver would serve another month in jail.
  • Fines between $1,100 and $10,000
  • The convicted might be eligible for sentencing credits after completing a substance abuse program ordered by the court.
  • If less than 11 months and 29 days is the ordered sentence, once the jail time is complete, the offender will be on probation for the remainder of the nearly year-long sentence.
  • Alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelets may also be ordered
  • Driver’s license will be for six years.

Felony DUI Convictions

After the third misdemeanor, DUI convictions become felonies. These carry stiffer penalties and alter the life of the driver even more. And with each following conviction, the driver forfeits more and more of their quality of life.

Can a Driver Beat a DUI Conviction?

Though the state of Tennessee is tough on drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a driver may still be able to avoid conviction. A conviction takes many factors into account, such as the following:

  • Breathalyzer test
  • Field sobriety test results
  • Urine or Blood Tests

Even if the above results do not look too good, there are other ways to beat a DUI conviction. A Tennessee DUI lawyer will examine the traffic stop and how the officer performed it. Mistakes that the officer made can lessen their credibility, and this can result in the charges being dropped.

If the officer pulled the driver over without probable cause, then any of the other evidence collected would be inadmissible.

A Tennessee DUI Attorney Can Help

The Law Offices of Christopher Eads are ready to defend you against your DUI charge in Tennessee. We understand how destructive a conviction could be to your life, and we want to aid you in avoiding one. Our expertise and experience ensure that you are in good hands. Call for a free consultation, and we will examine your case and devise a solid strategy to fight for you. Call today so that we can minimize the damage to your finances, career, family life, and freedom.