What Happens For Your First DUI Offense In Tennessee?

Barnes & Fersten Law Firm

Barnes & Fersten Law Firm

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If you’ve recently been charged with DUI, you’re probably feeling a mix of emotions – confusion, frustration, and perhaps even fear. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Thousands of people are arrested for DUI each year in Tennessee, and almost all of them will have questions about what happens next.

This blog is intended to provide some basic information about the DUI process in Tennessee. Our goal is to help you understand the steps that will be taken by the court system, and to give you a better idea of what to expect as your case moves forward. We encourage you to contact our office for a free consultation to review your specific situation.

What Is The Minimum Sentence For A First Time DUI In Tennessee?

Tennessee has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country, and the penalties for a first time DUI can be severe. Individuals convicted for a DUI first offense can expect to spend at least 48 hours in jail and you will be ordered to participate in an alcohol and drug education program. They will also be required to pay restitution to any person suffering physical injury or financial loss, as well as a fine of $350-$1,500. In addition, they may have to install an ignition interlock device at their expense and will face a license revocation of up to 1 year.

However, it is important to remember that these penalties apply only if you are convicted.  If you have only been charged, but not yet convicted of DUI, it’s important to speak with a qualified DUI attorney to determine what defenses you have and whether you may be able to avoid a conviction.

One of the most common questions we receive from clients is about potential jail time. As described above, the minimum sentence for a first time DUI is 48 hours in jail. However, if your BAC was .20 or higher, your minimum sentence increases to 7 days. It’s also possible that you could receive a longer jail sentence if the judge deems it appropriate (up to 11 months and 29 days) but this is typically reserved for more serious offenses. It’s important to remember that each case is unique, and the outcome will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your situation.

Do You Lose Your License For DUI In Tennessee?

Your license will be suspended for 1 year if you are convicted of DUI in Tennessee. It is possible to obtain a restricted license, however, you would be required to install an ignition interlock device, at your own expense, and drive only vehicles that have an interlock installed. Again, you will only lose your license if you are actually convicted of DUI.

If you refuse a breathalyzer test or blood draw during the traffic stop, the police officer will likely charge you with a violation of implied consent law, which could cause you lose your license. However, this is a separate charge from DUI and it’s possible to fight the implied consent law violation in court.

What Other Consequences Will I Face For A DUI In Tennessee?

In addition to the penalties outlined above, you will be required to carry high risk insurance, called SR-22, for five years and your insurance premiums will increase.  In certain cases you may be required to undergo drug and alcohol treatment or perform community service, often in the form of roadside litter pickup. You would also be required to pay court costs related to your DUI offense.

Can a DUI Be Reduced In Tennessee?

In some cases, a DUI charge can be reduced to a less serious offense like reckless driving or another traffic offense. 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, and many other considerations. A successful reduction will often result in the avoidance of jail time, loss of driving privileges, and other reduced penalties.  It can also have a significant effect on your criminal record and your ability to remove charges from your record in the future. For example, although a DUI conviction is currently not eligible to be expunged, a reckless driving is eligible to be expunged five (5) years after you complete the six (6) month probationary period. Similarly, some offenses such as reckless driving are eligible for something called judicial diversion.

It’s important that you speak with an experienced DUI lawyer who can help you determine what steps are necessary to seek a reduction of charges in your specific case.  Because every case and individual are different, only attorneys who practice DUI defense day in day out will be able to give you good advice as to the best way to handle your defense.

Contact An Experienced Tennessee DUI Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with DUI, it’s important to seek legal advice from an experienced Tennessee DUI attorney. At Barnes & Fersten, we understand the complexities of the DUI process and can help you explore your legal options. We offer a free consultation to review your situation, so don’t hesitate to call us today.

No matter what your situation is, we will work diligently to ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your case. 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.

Attorney At Law, Managing Partner

Brandon D. Fersten is an esteemed Knoxville attorney practicing DUIcriminal 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.