Tennessee has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. For a first-time DUI offense, you can expect to spend at least 48 hours in jail, be ordered to participate in an alcohol and drug education program, and pay a fine of $350-$1,5001. Additional penalties may include a license revocation of up to 1 year, installation of an ignition interlock device, carrying high risk insurance (SR-22) for five years, and possibly undergoing drug and alcohol treatment or performing community service.
However, the penalties for subsequent DUI convictions are even more severe.
Second Offense DUI:
Third Offense DUI:
Fourth Offense DUI (Felony DUI):
Not all prior convictions of DUI will “count” to make a current charge a multiple offense. There are time limits on how far back the State can go to make a new charge a multiple offense.
If you have not had a DUI arrest in the ten years preceding the current arrest, the correct charge would be a first offense, no matter how many prior convictions you have had. However, if you have had a DUI arrest that resulted in a conviction in the last ten years, the State can then go ten year back from your previous arrest, resulting in some convictions more than 10 years old being eligible to enhance your charge.
It is imperative that a qualified DUI defense attorney review your background, the dates of arrest and convictions, and the paperwork documenting the conviction, to determine if the penalties for a multiple offense apply to your case. This is especially true since there are procedural requirements that must be met, issues with out of State or uncounseled DUI pleas, and other considerations in determining what the potential penalty, if convicted, would be.
If convicted of a multiple offense DUI, the mandatory minimum jail sentences required can, in some cases, be lowered. In order to reduce the mandatory jail requirements, participation in either inpatient or outpatient treatment, at the direction of a qualified professional is required.
A reduced sentence is not mandatory for treatment, but often getting treatment, even while the case is still playing out in court, can help your case and be used to improve the outcome of the charges.
It is important that before embarking on any course of treatment that will be used in the defense of your case, that a qualified DUI defense attorney is consulted. There are strict requirements as to what treatment can qualify to reduce jail time, how much treatment is required, and in what setting. By consulting with a DUI defense attorney who knows these requirements and will help you follow them, you can get treatment that you may want regardless of the case against you and get the benefit of that treatment in your DUI case.
In addition to the specific penalties, like jail time and loss of license, under the statute, a DUI conviction will carry other consequences. For one, a DUI cannot be removed from your record ever, under current law. The resulting conviction will require high risk insurance or in some cases have you dropped from your insurance coverage all together. Additionally, a felony DUI conviction would make you ineligible to vote or possess a firearm. Criminal convictions will show up on background checks for housing and work and can negatively affect hiring, promotions, and housing options. Individuals who need to drive for work, even if not commercial drivers, can lose jobs or be ineligible for other jobs that they would like to apply for in the future.
Despite the serious nature of DUI charges, there are defenses available. It’s crucial to remember that being charged with a DUI doesn’t mean you will be convicted. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence. An experienced DUI defense attorney can challenge the evidence against you, question the legality of the traffic stop and breathalyzer test, or negotiate with the prosecution to reduce your charges.
In some cases, a DUI charge can be reduced to a less serious offense like reckless driving or another traffic offense, or in the case of a multiple offense, could be reduced to a less serious DUI charge with less jail time and license revocation. This can occur based on several different factors, including the strength or weakness of the evidence against you, legal issues that can be raised in court, your efforts to demonstrate acceptance of responsibility, and to address any underlying substance abuse problem.
Facing a multiple offense DUI charge can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to face this alone. An experienced Knoxville DUI attorney can help explore your legal options, fight for your rights, and work diligently to ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your case.
At our Knoxville law firm, we understand the complexities of the DUI process and the nuances of Tennessee DUI law. Our attorneys have substantial experience defending clients against DUI charges, including those with prior convictions. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights, your freedom, and your future.
We offer a free consultation to review your situation, so don’t hesitate to call us today. You will be able to speak with an attorney on the phone, even before coming in to the office. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and advocating for your best interests. Contact us now for more information or to schedule a free consultation at (865) 805-5703.
It’s never too early to start planning your defense. The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner we can start working on your case and planning a strategy to defend not only your case specifically but ultimately, your future.