Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in Knoxville, Tennessee. The criminal and financial consequences are very serious and costly. In many cases, they follow you for a long time as you face higher insurance premiums, jail time, the potential loss of your job, and more. One thing that many first time offenders are surprised by is that jail time is mandatory for a DUI conviction. Further, the court costs, the steep fines, and the cost of alcohol or drug treatment can create a significant hardship. If you are facing a DUI charge, even if it is your first, you would be wise to contact a Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI defense lawyer as quickly as possible to mitigate the damage.
What Counts as Driving Under the Influence According to the Law in Knoxville, Tennessee?
When you think of DUI charges, you imagine a drunk driver. If asked to think of other potential situations involving DUI charges, it might occur to you to consider those who drive under the influence of illegal drugs. What most people fail to consider is that even legally prescribed medications could result in a DUI charge. Specifically, you cannot drive on public roads, on highways, in ordinary streets, or even alleys while impaired by any substance. This includes marijuana, narcotics, stimulants, prescriptions that cause impairment, and of course, alcohol.
Having said that, not all illegal drugs and prescription medications are as easy to measure as alcohol when you are suspected of driving under the influence. You could test positive for THC, proving that you have use marijuana, but this only proves that you used marijuana at some time within the past month or so. You might test positive for cocaine or amphetamines, but this only proves that you used it at some time within the past few days. With prescription medications, you may test positive for something like codeine or benzodiazepines, but these tests only reveal that you have taken such medications at some time within the past few days or even weeks.
Alcohol, on the other hand, can be measured through a blood alcohol content breathalyzer test or blood test. These tests can reveal if you are currently intoxicated. For this reason, your level of impairment may be subjective. Also for this reason, you should be very careful about what you say when you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. If you specifically state that you are impaired by the side effects of a prescription medication, then this may be used against you.
What to Expect from a DUI Conviction as a First Time Offender in Knoxville, Tennessee
While the consequences for a DUI conviction are much worse for repeat offenders, even if the previous offenses happened in another state, the consequences are still very serious for first time offenders. As a first time offender, a DUI conviction will involve mandatory fines of $350 to $1,500.
Also mandatory is the jail time that comes with such a conviction. You will have a mandatory minimum of 48 hours in jail, though it could be more than this. In cases where your BAC was higher than .20%, you will have a mandatory minimum of seven days in jail. Depending on your case, you could end up with a jail sentence of anywhere from two days to almost a full year (11 months, 29 days maximum).
Other consequences of a first time DUI conviction in Knoxville, Tennessee, include having your driver’s license revoked for one year, having to use an ignition interlock device when you get your license back (which requires you to use a breathalyzer before driving), and 24 hours of community service.
What to Expect From a DUI Conviction as a Second Time Offender in Knoxville, Tennessee
If you are convicted of a DUI for a second time in Knoxville, Tennessee, then your fines will be $600 to $3,500. Your jail sentence will be between 45 days and 11 months, 29 days. In some cases, you may be able to trade some jail time for some time in an inpatient drugs or alcohol treatment program. Your license can be revoked for two years for a second offense, and you may also have to forfeit your vehicle.
What to Expect From a DUI Conviction as a Third Time Offender in Knoxville, Tennessee
If you end up being convicted of a DUI charge for a third time in Knoxville, Tennessee, you can expect to pay fines between $1K and $10K. You will also have a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 120 days, though you could also face a sentence of 11 months, 29 days. Your license will be revoked for six years, and you are more likely to have to forfeit your vehicle.
What to Expect From a DUI Conviction as a Fourth Time Offender in Knoxville, Tennessee
Once you get to your fourth DUI charge in Knoxville, Tennessee, you can be convicted of a felony (Class E). This will involve a more serious criminal record, fines from $3K to $15K, and jail or prison time between 150 days and six years. Your license will be revoked for eight years, and you will probably have to forfeit your vehicle. Your incarceration will be followed by probation, community service, and counseling for drug or alcohol addiction. If anyone else was harmed through your behavior, then you will also have to pay the victims restitution for their damages.
Barnes and Fersten Can Help You Get the Best Possible Outcome in Your DUI Case
If you are facing DUI charges in Knoxville, Tennessee, you want to have legal guidance and representation from an attorney who knows how get the best possible outcome for you. Working with an experienced Knoxville, Tennessee, DUI defense legal team can help you avoid conviction, minimize your charges, and potentially save you from a damaged reputation and further financial losses. Call the Barnes and Fersten Law Firm to learn more about how we can help you in your DUI defense.
Attorney At Law, Managing Partner
Brandon D. Fersten is an esteemed Knoxville attorney practicing DUI, criminal defense, and juvenile law. Known for his empathetic approach and commitment to his clients, he brings a record of favorable case outcomes including dismissals and not guilty verdicts at jury trials resulting in Brandon being recognized as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in Criminal Defense, U.S. News’ Best Lawyers: “Ones to Watch,” and Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars”. Brandon’s professional accolades, combined with his passion for justice, position him as a reliable criminal defense advocate in the East Tennessee legal landscape.