Understanding Tennessee's DUI Laws And Penalties

Tennessee driving under the influence laws contain an assortment of penalties for drunken driving offenders. 1st, 2nd and 3rd Tennessee DUI criminal acts are all misdemeanors, however with greater possibilities for punishment. However, if you receive a 4th DUI conviction or more, they are considered felony criminal offenses. Fees and penalties along with time in jail are more severe too.

First-Time DUI Penalties

For any first offender, the actual minimum penalties include incarceration. A first time offender can expect to be sentenced to a minimum of two days in jail. In the event you offer a blood or breath test and your blood alcohol content is over .20, the bare minimum jail time is seven days. The jail time usually has to be served back to back.

You'll have to attend driving under the influence school and will definitely owe court costs (which in turn vary based on your case), as well as pay a minimum $350 fine.

Your driver's license is suspended 12 months and dependent upon the judge, an interlock ignition device may be required on your automobile at your expense. The judge may also order drug and alcohol treatment when there is an indication that you have a substance abuse issue.

Second DUI Penalties

In case you are convicted of a second drunk driving charge, the fees and penalties increase even more. The absolute minimum of 45 days in jail is required, plus an increase in the bare minimum fine from $350 to $600.

Your license is suspended for two years, and you can't obtain a restricted one until after the first year. Just like a first offense, "drunk driving" school is required. In addition, you could have your car or truck forfeited, and an interlock ignition device could possibly be ordered installed on your automobile.

Third DUIs

A third driving under the influence conviction becomes substantially more severe. Even though it is still a misdemeanor, the fees and penalties closely echo that of a far more serious felony fourth DUI offense. A third offense DUI conviction carries:

  • A minimum of 120 days in jail
  • License suspension for three to 10 years, without any probability of getting a restricted license.
  • Mandatory attendance at DUI school
  • Possible forfeiture of your car or truck
  • Mandatory bare minimum fine is $1,100, though this could be increased up to $11,000

Penalties For Felony DUIs

A fourth offense DUI conviction and each offense after that is considered a Class E felony. The bare minimum time in jail for a fourth DUI offense in Tennessee is 150 days. The bare minimum fine amount rises to $3,000, and your driver's license will be suspended for at least five years without any eligibility for a restricted driver's license. Much like a second and third offense, you must attend DUI school, could have your car or truck forfeited, and can even be ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your automobile.

A death due to the acts of a drunken motorist might impose a more severe penalty than that of just a DUI charge.

Additional Consequences of Any DUI Conviction

Additionally, there are fines and penalties associated with declining a blood alcohol test, which can range from a one to five years suspension of your driver's license, based on the circumstances and an individual's prior record. Typically the implied consent law is a civil penalty, and does not carry with it any sort of jail time.

The interlock device won't enable the automobile to start until the driver blows into it, confirming that person not had anything to drink. It generally costs hundreds of dollars a year to maintain, and that expense is paid for by the offender.

Things To Keep In Mind About DUI Sentencing

First through third driving under the influence offenses are all misdemeanors. However each can carry up to 11 months and 29 days of jail time. Therefore, the minimum requirements above aren't always the sentences generally imposed. Prosecutors and judges look to the history of the offender, along with the facts associated with the charge whenever determining what sentence to impose.

The bare minimum offenses are usually encouraged if you are absolutely guilty, but they're not required to be offered by the court. Occasionally, if the facts are in someone's favor, the amended charge of reckless driving, which is a Class B misdemeanor, may be negotiated. Nevertheless, reckless driving is not a lesser charge.

Protect Yourself From These And Other Penalties Of A Criminal Conviction

As in all DUI-related criminal cases, the best results are obtained when you call a skilled Knoxville lawyer who is dedicated to handling Tennessee DUI, vehicular assault and other driving charges as soon as possible. Call toll free at 888-DUI-CALL (865-540-8300) or locally in the greater Knoxville area at 865-540-8300 as soon as possible