THE BARNES & Fersten Knoxville DUI Lawyers

Award Winning Client Service, Proven Results



Attorneys Brandon Fersten, John Barnes, Oscar Butler

Knoxville DUI Defense Attorneys


Unfortunately, if you are reading this it likely means you have recently been arrested for DUI and need a Knoxville DUI lawyer. You are likely feeling a roller coaster of emotions such as nervousness, anxiousness, and fear of the effect a DUI conviction may have on your life, your family’s life, and your livelihood. Our team of attorneys are here to guide you through your concerns and ensure the court process goes as smoothly as possible under the circumstances.

It is imperative that you contact a Knoxville DUI attorney to discuss your case to start preparing your defense immediately because the decisions you make today can affect you for the rest of your life. Unlike most misdemeanors, and even some felonies, a DUI conviction remains on your criminal record and on background checks for your entire life. A DUI conviction in the state of Tennessee cannot be expunged.

Defending Your DUI Case

Barnes & Fersten will fight for your rights with a personalized plan thorough our entire team working on your behalf

Once we are retained to represent you, the first step after notifying the court that we are representing you is to collect all the potential evidence in your case including but not limited to any 911 calls, police body camera, police dash camera from the cruiser, implied consent form, breathalyzer slip, and/or toxicology report from a blood draw. This is an important step that a skilled Knoxville DUI lawyer will undertake immediately. 

Regardless how well trained a police officer may be, they often make mistakes that can result in a judge dismissing your case entirely or a prosecutor offering a favorable plea agreement. Our Knoxville DUI attorneys will analyze: 

  • Whether the state can prove each element of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt; 
  • The reason for the stop whether because of a traffic violation or anonymous 911 call to determine the validity of the stop and whether the case may be dismissed due to an illegal stop;
  • Each phase of the DUI investigation to determine whether the officer illegally proceeded with the investigation without sufficient evidence;
  • The standardized field sobriety test to ensure the officer instructed and conducted the test in accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 
  • The administration of your breath or blood test and the results to verify whether the state can determine impairment, whether the evidence is admissible in court, or whether there are any legal issues such as a chain of custody issue impacting the validity of the results; 
  • Whether the arresting officer violated your Fifth Amendment (Miranda Right) right to remain silent and the effect of any violation on your case. 
  • Whether you have any medical conditions that could impact your case. Numerous medical conditions may impact the validity of a blood or breath test, as well as your appearance on scene that an officer may confuse for impairment. 


All our Knoxville DUI lawyers will review the evidence in your case then collectively determine  the specific defense strategy for your case based upon the evidence we have reviewed and potentially some of the things we learned about you and how a DUI conviction will personally affect you differently than someone else. In doing so, you receive the collective decision of our entire team to find the best approach to receiving the best outcome possible in your case.

Our attorneys routinely travel the country for DUI Defense specific training by numerous associations including the National College of DUI Defense. Countless nuances in DUI law exist that some Knoxville DUI lawyers routinely miss simply because they are not familiar with the law on DUI cases. Understanding the Tennessee Supreme Court and Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals decisions and staying up to date with them allow our attorneys to get favorable results because we understand when an officer messed up part of their investigation and the impact it may have on our clients’ case. Our Knoxville DUI lawyers attend DUI conferences and trainings across the country to provide you with the highest quality representation. 

Barnes & Fersten provide a professional service with a personal approach because everyone’s case is different, and everyone’s life experiences is different. You are more than just a mugshot of someone arrested for DUI but a person with real life experiences and real effects of a conviction.

Attorney John Barnes, Attorney Brandon D. Fersten, and Attorney Oscar Butler

Can I refuse a blood or breath test?

A common misconception regarding the implied consent law is that you automatically must provide a blood or breath sample if it is requested by law enforcement. However, the officer must have probable cause to believe you are under the influence of an intoxicant affecting the central nervous system, and therefore your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle to request a chemical test. This means that an officer cannot legally ask any motorist to provide chemical testing. Instead, the officer must specify specific facts to establish probable cause that a chemical test would likely provide additional evidence that the individual is too impaired to safely operate a vehicle.

If you refuse a blood or breath test the officer will charge you with implied consent unless the officer gets a search warrant thereafter. However, a DUI conviction carries a similar loss of license with the additional punishment of 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days in jail. Thus, providing a blood or breath sample is only giving the state more evidence to use against you to convict you of DUI. Moreover, as this page will discuss in further detail, you do not automatically lose your license if you are charged with implied consent because there are still numerous legal issues that may allow your Knoxville DUI lawyer to get your implied consent charge dismissed.

DUI Defense in Tennessee book cover

Will the judge take my license at my first court date?

No, the judge will not take your license at your first court date. You are entitled to a hearing where the court would have to find two main requirements: (1) the officer had probable cause authorizing the officer to legally request a blood or breath sample; and (2) the officer properly advised you of the consequences of failing to comply by agreeing to provide a sample. The advisement of the consequences of refusing a chemical test does not have to be specific. This means the officer does not have to specify the length of time for a license suspension but only the general advisement that the motorist’s license will be suspended for failure to provide a chemical sample.  

As such, the implied consent charge will not be addressed at your first court date. You also do not have a right to a jury trial on an implied consent charge; although you may have the implied consent charge tried by a jury under limited circumstances which your Knoxville DUI lawyer can advise you of.

Preliminary Hearings: Instead, the implied consent charge will be addressed at a preliminary hearing if you have a preliminary hearing. Many times, the implied consent charge will be handled jointly with the DUI during plea negotiations. In fact, in most cases where the State offers to reduce a DUI to a reckless driving, reckless endangerment or another lesser charge from a DUI, the State may dismiss the implied consent charge resulting in no loss of license.

Elements of a DUI: What MUST the state prove to convict you of DUI?


The State must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  1. Were driving or in physical control;
  2. Of an automobile or a motor-driven vehicle;
  3. While the automobile or motor-driven vehicle is on either:
    1. A public road
    2. A highway
    3. Any street or alley
    4. The premises of a shopping center, trailer park or apartment complex; or
    5. Any other premises generally frequented by the public at large;
    6. While under the influence of either:
      1. An intoxicant such as alcohol;
      2. Marijuana; or
  • Substance affecting the central nervous system including but not limited to illegal drugs and/or prescription drugs; or
  1. With a blood or breath alcohol concentration above the legal limit of either a .02, .04 or .08 depending on your circumstances.
    1. Under 21 years old: .02 or above;
    2. DUI above 21 years old: .08 or above
    3. DUI in a commercial vehicle: .04 or above;

Location of Offense: Frequented by the Public at Large

Another element of a DUI that many Knoxville DUI lawyers who do not practice DUI defense on a regular basis often glance over is the location of the offense. This element comes up in a few key scenarios:

  1. Impairment at the time of driving on a public road or frequented by the public. This situation may be a defense in your case where you drove on a public road that led you to a private road or an area not frequented by the public. The State must prove that you were impaired at the time you were on the public road. For example, a situation where this may come up is where you were involved in an accident and left the scene of the accident. Police determine you were involved in a vehicle and knock on your front door some time-period after the accident when you are already outside of the vehicle that is parked in your driveway or garage. You could have become impaired after you arrived at home after you were no longer driving or in physical control of the vehicle and the state would have no way to prove otherwise unless you admit to the officer that you drank before being involved in the accident. However, even with an admission, it would be difficult to establish impairment at the time you were driving or in physical control. Our Knoxville DUI lawyers will be on the lookout for this possible defense in each case.
  1. Frequented by the public at large
    1. Many factors come into play to determine if the road is frequented by the public at large such as whether the general public is excluded from the location through a gate or other obstruction that bars entrance to the premises, signs that display or prohibit parking by the general public during prohibited hours.

Permanent Consequences: DUI Penalties if convicted

One question you likely have is what are the consequences if I were to be found guilty of DUI? Will I go to jail? Lose my license? How can I drive to work if I lose my license? The answer to these questions depend largely on your BAC, whether there was a child in the vehicle, and how many prior DUI convictions you have, if any. A good Knoxville DUI lawyer will be able to answer this question for you based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case.


As the law stands, DUI convictions remain on your record forever because they are not expungement eligible. This means that a DUI conviction will have a lifelong effect on your life. Additionally, a prior DUI conviction may be used against you to enhance your mandatory minimum punishment if you are charged with a DUI within ten (10) years of a prior DUI conviction and then the state can go back an additional ten (10) years for additional DUI convictions.

Underage DWI (Under 21)

Even if you are under the age of 21, you can be charged and convicted of DUI first offense for having a BAC above .08 or being impaired as outlined above. This means that a 16 to 21 year old can receive anywhere from 48 hours to 364 days in jail, and loss of license for 1 year. However, it is also possible to get the charge reduced to an underage DWI, which our Knoxville DUI lawyers believe has numerous benefits as outlined below.


  • Class A misdemeanor
  • One (1) year loss of license – you are not eligible for a restricted driver’s license.
    • This mandatory requirement may be prevented by your lawyer convincing the prosecutor to allow you to use something known as a judicial diversion.
      • Judicial diversion is essentially a one-time get out of jail free card that allows the charge to be dismissed and expunged after a certain amount of time and after certain conditions are met. A DUI first offense is not diversion eligible meaning you cannot use a judicial diversion and a conviction will remain on your record forever. However, an underage DWI can be expunged so that it does not show up on your record. Certain conditions must be met to determine if you are eligible for diversion, and we will discuss that with you if you are under the age of 21.
    • $250 fine
    • Court may impose public service work
    • No mandatory minimum jail time
    • No probation

First Offense DUI

  • Class A misdemeanor offense
  • Jail: minimum 48 hours to 364 days in the county jail, remainder on probation
  • Fine: minimum $350 fine – $1,500
  • DUI school and/or Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel


DUI By Allowing: First Offense

DUI by allowing, or DUI by consent, is a charge where someone who was not even driving the vehicle is charged with DUI. This usually occurs when the owner of the vehicle is a passenger in the vehicle causing the police officer to assume that you, as the passenger, authorized the driver to drive impaired with knowledge that they were drinking and impaired.

Multiple additional defenses are available in this case, and it is critical your Knoxville DUI lawyer knows how to defend against this specific charge. A critical evaluation of the officer’s investigation into you as the passenger, your knowledge of the amount the driver consumed, and your opinion regarding the driver’s level of impairment is all essential to your defense, as well as your lack of knowledge in conducting field sobriety testing.

  • All conditions are the same as a First Offense DUI as the driver

First Offense DUI above .20 BAC:

  • Jail: Minimum enhanced to 7 days to 364 days in the county jail
  • All other conditions are the same

First Offense DUI with a child in the vehicle:

  • Jail: Minimum is enhanced to 32 days to 364 days in the county jail
  • All other conditions are the same

Vehicular Assault:

  • Class D Felony
  • Jail: Same mandatory minimum sentence as a DUI 48 hours to 364 days. However, generally the State’s offer will be significantly more than the minimum.
  • Probation: 2-4 years

Prior DUI Conviction

Second Offense DUI:

  • Class A misdemeanor
  • Minimum 45 days to 364 days in jail
    • You can receive 20 days of credit for inpatient or outpatient treatment bringing the minimum punishment down to 25 days. However, it is imperative that your lawyer discusses this with the DA ahead of time because it is not mandatory that you get the jail credit unless approved by the DA or judge.
  • $600-$3,500 fine
  • 2 year license revocation
  • The State of Tennessee may confiscate your vehicle

Third Offense DUI:

  • Class A misdemeanor
  • 120 to 364 days
    • You can receive 55 days of credit for inpatient or outpatient treatment
  • $1,100-$10,000 fine
  • 6 year license revocation
  • The State of Tennessee may confiscate your vehicle

Fourth Offense DUI:

  • Class E Felony
  • Punishable by 1-2 years on probation
  • 120 to 364 days in jail
    • You can receive 55 days of credit for inpatient or outpatient treatment
  • 8 year license revocation
  • The State of Tennessee may confiscate your vehicle

Significantly, just because you are charged with a second, third, fourth or subsequent offense DUI, it does not mean your Knoxville DUI lawyer cannot negotiate for you to plead guilty to a lesser offense to reduce the mandatory minimum jailtime. The facts and circumstances of your case and/or life may affect our ability to either get a dismissal, a reduction to reckless driving or reckless endangerment or a reduction to a lower grade of DUI, such as a second offense DUI reduced to a first offense DUI.

Restricted License

How will I get to work or drop my children off at school if I lose my license due to a DUI Conviction?

Our Knoxville DUI lawyers’ goal is to avoid a DUI conviction altogether, if possible, based on the facts and circumstances of your case. However, if you are convicted of DUI, your driving privileges will be revoked unless you receive an Order signed by the judge authorizing you to have a restricted license.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, there are two different types of restricted driver’s licenses that you can discuss with our Knoxville DUI attorneys to see which one you may be able to receive.

  1. Ignition interlock device (IID) with SR-22 Insurance

Within ten (10) days of receiving the Restricted Driver’s License Order signed by the judge, in most cases, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device on your motor vehicle and receive additional SR-22 insurance coverage. You will bring two certified copies of the Order signed by the judge with proof of the ignition interlock installation and SR-22 insurance coverage to the DMV within ten (10) days of receiving the Order to receive a physical and valid restricted driver’s license. This restricted license allows you to drive anywhere in the country at any time so long as you have the ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle you are operating.

  1. Geographic Restrictions License

Similarly, a Restricted Driver’s License Order will need to be signed by the judge. However, under this restricted license, you will not be required to have an ignition interlock device. Alternatively, this restricted license is available in much more limited circumstances and only allows you to drive to specific places including school, work, church, AA meetings, inpatient or outpatient treatment. If you are caught driving anywhere not designated and at a time not designated by the Order you may be charged with driving on a revoked license without an ignition interlock. Your Knoxville DUI lawyer may discuss whether you may be eligible for a geographic restriction license, rather than an ignition interlock device. There are three circumstances in which this license may be available:

  1. Pleading guilty to implied consent with no priors;
  2. DUI with a BAC less than .08% and no drugs; or
  3. DUI did not involve alcohol and (1) no accident due to DUI; (2) no person under 18 in the vehicle; (3) no prior DUI within 10 years.

Three Phases of a DUI:

Our Knoxville DUI lawyers review each stage individually before looking at the case in its entirety because there are issues with police investigation we know to look for during each phase. A Knoxville DUI attorney who does not view each phase individually is failing you as your attorney because they may miss a significant defense in your case.

  1. Vehicle in motion


The first phase of a DUI investigation is the vehicle in motion phase, or your driving that caused the officer to pull you over. Here, our Knoxville DUI attorneys look at the reason for the stop and whether it is a valid seizure. Once the officers blue light you, they must have had reasonable suspicion or probable cause that you violated a traffic violation or criminal offense, except for under other very limited circumstances, such as community caretaking or anonymous 911 calls, that must be closely scrutinized.

While there are countless traffic violations that authorize an officer to pull your vehicle over, the NHTSA has identified 24 nighttime cues of impairment. Significantly, although an officer may note the cue of impairment as part of his rationale for placing you under arrest, many of the cues of impairment do not justify a valid and legal traffic stop because they are not against the law. For example, driving below the speed limit, varying speed, unnecessarily accelerating, or decelerating and stopping problems may be indicative of impairment even though it cannot justify a legal traffic stop. Significantly, driving above the speed limit (speeding) is not indicative of impairment.

  1. Personal contact


Again, as the name implies, the second phase of a DUI investigation is the initial interaction between you and the officer, as well as the observations the officer makes during the interaction. You will likely see in the officer’s sworn statement that you had red, watery and bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, unsteadiness on feet, and a strong odor of alcohol. These are all potential signs of impairment during the personal contact phase. However, there are numerous reasons why you may exhibit those signs of impairment other than impairment. It is important that your Knoxville DUI lawyer explores reasons why you exhibited those signs of impairment to point out to the officer during cross examination, a judge, prosecutor and potentially a jury one day.

  1. Pre-arrest screening (Standardized Field Sobriety Tests)


The final phase is the standardized field sobriety tests. Unfortunately, most people are not aware that these tests are fully voluntary, and you are not required to perform these tests, nor are there any consequences under the law for refusing to perform these tests. More information regarding each of the standardized field sobriety tests can be found here. 

Do I automatically lose my license for refusing a blood or breath sample?

Many people believe when officers read the implied consent form that the officer would take there license as soon as they say no to providing a sample or that their license will be taken on their very first court date. However, that is not true. Your license will not be taken from you unless you are either convicted of DUI or found in violation of the implied consent law at a hearing or through negotiations. Our goal as Knoxville DUI lawyers is to prevent both of those scenarios from happening so you can keep your license if possible.

Blood or Breath result was Above a .08

Can a Knoxville DUI lawyer really help me?

The short answer is yes. Every case is different, and we cannot guarantee a particular result, but our attorneys have prevented our clients from getting a DUI conviction in countless cases where blood or breath results were above a .08, including blood results as high as .25.

Your blood or breath results being above a .08 does not necessarily mean you will be convicted of DUI. Blood or breath results are not automatically admissible in court. There are numerous prerequisites that must be met for the evidence to be admissible. First and foremost, an officer cannot request anyone to give a blood or breath sample, but the officer must establish probable cause. If we can establish the officer lacked evidence sufficient to establish probable cause, then your blood results cannot be used against you.


Moreover, there are numerous issues that may allow us to suppress or prevent the evidence from being used against you in court such as a chain of custody issue, lack of voluntary consent, lack of proper testing of the breathalyzer to ensure its accuracy, among many others that our attorneys look for in each blood or breath case.


For example, a lack of voluntary consent issue may exist in your case if the officer was coercive and made it seem as if you did not have a choice because they would get a search warrant if you did not comply. Another example is where an individual is involved in a serious accident, receives treatment on the way to the hospital via ambulance and either in the ambulance and/or at the hospital is given pain medications that impact the ability of the individual to truly give voluntary consent. If this is an issue in your case, our Knoxville DUI lawyers will discuss it with you and discuss the potential need to have your doctor or another doctor who can be qualified as an expert, testify to your ability to give consent under the circumstances of the specific medications provided to you.


When it comes to fighting the legal charges brought against you, it’s important to know that you have rights. A DUI charge is no different. However, having rights might not do you any good, if you are not familiar with them. We will make you aware of what those rights are, and how they can apply to your case.

What Our Clients Say


Immediately after a DUI arrest, it’s crucial to follow pretrial release or bond conditions and report to the pretrial office within 72 hours if required. Reviewing and adhering to these conditions is essential to avoid potential revocation of bond or pretrial release. Contacting a DUI attorney as soon as possible can alleviate stress and provide guidance, as well as help amend bond or pretrial conditions, such as ignition interlock devices, scram devices, drug testing, or reporting requirements. An experienced lawyer can potentially remove or amend unfair conditions promptly, even before your first court date. For more insights on navigating the aftermath of a DUI arrest, read our blog post on the topic.

If you’re pulled over for DUI in Tennessee, exercise your right to remain silent, only providing basic information such as your driver’s license, registration, and insurance. Limit conversation and remember that standardized field sobriety tests are voluntary; refusing them may lead to arrest, but can prevent additional evidence against you. Though providing a blood or breath sample can make the state’s case easier, there can be issues with their admissibility and reliability. A shorter interaction with the officer and limited conversation can make it more difficult for the state to prove impairment. Read our blog on this topic for more information.

Tennessee enforces strict DUI laws, even for first-time offenders. A first-time DUI conviction carries a minimum of 48 hours in jail, with credit for time served during arrest, up to a maximum of 11 months and 29 days in jail or on probation. Additional mandatory requirements include a one-year license revocation, fines between $350 and $1,500, court costs, and a 12-hour state-approved DUI education class. Under specific circumstances, mandatory minimum jail time may be enhanced: seven days for a BAC above .20, and an additional 30 days if a child was in the vehicle. Criminal history and other factors can influence the State’s offer and potential jail time. Our DUI attorneys strive to avoid DUI convictions, mandatory jail time, and license revocation through negotiations, reducing charges, or seeking dismissals. If a conviction is unavoidable, we work tirelessly to minimize the client’s risk and penalties. Our blog on this subject goes into more detail.

Most lawyers will charge separately for General Sessions Court and Criminal Court because most DUI cases get resolved prior to a jury trial in Criminal Court. A DUI lawyer may cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000 for the General Sessions Court phase of your case.  

A DUI case takes a lot of time and resources to defend properly with a clear strategy and end goal that meets the client’s realistic expectations and goals in retaining representation. An attorney cannot take on hundreds of cases for a low fee and expect to be successful in reaching their clients’ goals. That is why Barnes & Fersten limit the number of cases we take on throughout the year to ensure we have the time and resources to focus our attention on you, our potential client, because your needs should not be ignored during the most difficult and stressful time of your life in facing potential jail time and a loss of your driving privileges. 

We understand that no one expects to be arrested for DUI or spend a large lump sum of money on retaining an attorney. For this reason, we offer payment plans with a down payment followed by monthly payments. We do not want your financial situation to cause you to be unable to receive the highest level of DUI defense possible with a strategic plan and a cohesive team of attorneys all working together towards the best result possible in your case.

Arraignment: Your first court date is usually an arraignment. The purpose of the arraignment is to ensure that you understand:

  1. The charges against you;
  2. Your pretrial release or bond conditions; and
  3. You have the right to be represented by an attorney;


If you hire an attorney before the arraignment, generally your lawyer will be able to take care of the arraignment for you and you do not have to appear for the initial court date. The reasoning being that you already discussed the charges you are facing and your bond conditions with the attorney you retained. Your attorney and the prosecutor will pick a new court date generally 1 to 2 months from the arraignment to provide us with time to prepare your case to negotiate with the prosecutor about your case.

Maybe. At Barnes & Fersten we do everything we possibly can to prevent you from being convicted of DUI if possible. We will review all the evidence in your case but also learn a lot about you and the effect that a conviction would have on your life to use to your advantage during negotiations with the prosecutor assigned to your case. Although every case is different and no lawyer can ethically promise you a result, we routinely get cases reduced or dismissed where our clients have provided a blood or breath sample with a BAC above a .08% and even as high as a .30%.

There are a variety of ways that we can get a case resolved even with a BAC above a .08% because of a serious legal issue and/or constitutional violation that occurred during the officer’s investigation. Hiring a highly skilled DUI attorney gives you the best chance at avoiding a DUI conviction and the collateral consequences of a conviction that remains on your record for life.  

Potentially. The attorneys at Barnes & Fersten will do everything possible to get your DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving, or even dismissed entirely, if possible. Generally, a reckless driving plea offer eliminates a lot of risk and is a favorable resolution in most DUI cases to reduce the risk of proceeding to trial on a case that is strong for our client. A reckless driving is a Class B misdemeanor that in most circumstances will require six (6) months of unsupervised probation (DUI carries 11 months and 29 days), no jailtime, no loss of license, and no fine.

Tennessee is very strict on DUI charges, even for an individual who has no criminal history, but our attorneys have a longstanding history of getting cases reduced to reckless driving or reckless endangerment even in cases where a blood or breath result comes back above a .08%

Following an arraignment in East Tennessee, your case transitions into a comprehensive process encompassing several crucial stages. First is the investigation stage, where our attorneys diligently accumulate key evidence, including bodycam footage and medical records. Next are the status dates – a series of court appearances that enable us to negotiate with the prosecutor, address legal issues surrounding your arrest, and potentially challenge the arresting officer’s credibility. The final step entails preliminary hearings, where opportunities may arise to dismiss your case or secure valuable testimony for your defense.

When hiring a DUI attorney, it’s essential to read reviews, blogs, and content about various attorneys to find the best fit for your needs. While all criminal defense attorneys handle DUI cases, not all are well-versed in the nuances of DUI law. Ask questions to understand their legal strategy, how they will fight for you, and whether you’ll have a single attorney or a team defending you. A competent DUI attorney should not only be knowledgeable about the law but also genuinely care about your well-being. The attorneys at Barnes & Fersten are dedicated to staying up-to-date on recent legal decisions and continuously undergo additional training in DUI defense, attending seminars and training sessions across the country to provide clients with the most comprehensive DUI strategies possible. Read our blog on this subject for more information.

In Tennessee, a DUI can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on various factors. A first offense DUI is typically a Class A misdemeanor, with penalties including up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a minimum of 48 hours in jail (7 days if BAC is above .20), and a minimum fine of $350. However, under certain circumstances, a DUI can become a felony. These include a fourth or subsequent DUI offense, vehicular assault resulting from a DUI accident, or reckless endangerment charges related to the DUI incident. Read our blog on this topic for more detail.

Unfortunately, a DUI conviction will remain on your record forever unless the law changes because it is not expungement eligible. Therefore, it is essential you hire a trained DUI attorney to represent you to avoid being convicted of DUI if possible. A reduced charge such as a reckless driving or reckless endangerment is both judicial diversion eligible and expungement eligible and thus, it can be removed from your record. Similarly, if the charges are dismissed, we will file for the charge to be expunged from your record. 


The misconception about being charged with DUI, or even implied consent, is that you automatically lose your license or that you will lose your driving privileges at your first court date. This is the furthest thing from the truth. You will only lose your license if you are convicted of DUI. However, our goal is always to fight for our clients to avoid a DUI conviction if possible and therefore the loss of license and mandatory jailtime of a DUI conviction.  

If you are convicted of DUI or implied consent, you are most likely eligible for a restricted driver’s license. It is not automatic, but your lawyer can get an Order signed by the judge allowing you to drive either:  

  1. With an ignition interlock alcohol monitoring device installed on your vehicle and SR-22 insurance; or  
  2. Without an ignition interlock device but only to specific designated locations such as work, school, church, AA meetings and treatment programs. This option is only available under certain circumstances, but your lawyer should discuss this option with you if it may apply in your case.  

Out-of-state visitors dealing with a DUI charge in Tennessee face unique challenges, such as potentially higher bond amounts and stringent release conditions. Skilled DUI attorneys can help by advocating for reduced bond amounts, guiding clients through the legal process, and possibly waiving appearances at certain court dates to minimize inconvenience. If a case is resolved through negotiations, attorneys can work with clients to ensure that DUI school or other requirements are completed in their home state, and navigate any license revocation or ignition interlock requirements. The goal is to make the process as manageable as possible under the circumstances. Read our blog on this subject to learn more.

The possibility of having a DUI case dismissed in East Tennessee depends on a multitude of factors including the strength of your case, the specific jurisdiction, and whether there were any violations of constitutional rights or issues with the evidence. The State is tasked with proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you’re guilty by substantiating each element of the offense. At Barnes & Fersten, our DUI attorneys have successfully received not guilty verdicts and dismissals by identifying and winning suppression issues, establishing a lack of probable cause, and highlighting any legal shortcomings in the case. Our team is dedicated to guiding clients through this process across various counties in East Tennessee, working tirelessly to fight against DUI charges.

Even if you are below the age of 21, you may be charged with DUI and suffer from the same consequences of a DUI 1st offense conviction including the mandatory jailtime and loss of license. However, under the underage DWI law, an individual between the ages of 16 and 21 may be convicted of DWI rather than DUI 1st offense.

Underage DWI does not carry any jailtime or probation time-period, but it has a mandatory one-year loss of license if convicted. However, unlike DUI 1st offense, an underage DWI is diversion-eligible meaning that the charge can be dismissed and expunged at the end of following any conditions negotiated with the prosecutor. Through a diversion, an underage DWI would not carry the mandatory loss of license which is extremely helpful because an underage DWI is not eligible for a restricted license.

Unlike a DUI first offense, whereas the legal limit is a BAC of .08%, an underage DWI only requires at BAC of .02% because of underage consumption being prohibited.


As DUI attorneys, we often get asked if sleeping in a car can lead to a DUI conviction. The answer is yes, even if the keys aren’t in the ignition or you’re in the backseat. Tennessee law focuses on “physical control” rather than driving while impaired. The state must prove you were impaired while in control of the vehicle, and the Tennessee Supreme Court has expanded this concept in various cases. Our attorneys understand these nuances and will challenge the state to prove physical control beyond a reasonable doubt. Read our blog on this topic to learn more.