No matter the surrounding circumstances, DUI charges are serious business. They have the ability to negatively impact nearly every aspect of your life for years to come. If you are facing a DUI, you might be left wondering: what is a felony DUI? What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony DUI? Who can help if you are facing a felony DUI? These are all common questions that can be addressed by a knowledgeable Tennessee felony DUI attorney.
Misdemeanor Charges Versus Felony Charges
Tennessee differentiates between crimes by categorizing them as either petty offenses, misdemeanors, or felonies. Petty offenses are the least serious of these charges and usually come with a fine but no jail time. Traffic tickets are typical examples of petty offenses that generally are settled in court in less than a day.
Misdemeanors are usually punishable with higher fines and sometimes jail time of less than one year. If jail time is mandated, it is served in the local or county jail instead of a state or federal institution. Depending on the type of misdemeanor charge, a jury trial might be available.
Felonies are the most serious type of crime someone can be charged with. A first-degree felony is the most serious, whereas the seriousness decreases with an increased degree. Felonies are usually punishable with higher fines and prison time of over one year in a state or federal institution. If you are charged with a crime, you have the right to be provided with an attorney, a jury trial, and you have the right to a speedy trial. Those convicted of a felony charge may have other rights taken away, such as:
- Serving on juries
- Purchasing or possessing firearms
- Employment in certain professions, such as law, teaching, or the military
What Is a Felony DUI In Tennessee?
If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI in Tennessee, you might be wondering if you are facing a felony or misdemeanor charge and what the difference is. A DUI is a class A misdemeanor in Tennessee. However, if you are on your 4th DUI conviction, you are facing a class E felony. The first three DUI convictions will come with a maximum jail sentence each of eleven months and 29 days in jail. However, the minimum amount of jail time increases with each misdemeanor conviction.
Even though a misdemeanor is inherently a less-serious crime than a felony, you need to know that each misdemeanor DUI will remain on your criminal record for your entire life and will carry different harsh punishments that can impact your life in numerous ways.
Your DUI charge can also be escalated to a felony charge if you:
- Injured or killed a child passenger under the age of 13
- Caused serious injury in an accident (vehicular assault)
- Caused the death of another individual
- Caused substantial damage to property in an accident
Additional DUI Convictions
Your first DUI conviction will come with a minimum of 48 hours in county jail and a fine between $350 and $1,500. You will also have probation of eleven months and 29 days. Your license will be revoked for one year, and you will attend a mandatory alcohol safety program and victim impact panel.
If you are convicted of a second DUI, you will face the following:
- A minimum of 45 days in jail to a maximum of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail
- Probation for eleven months and twenty-nine days
- A fine of no less than $600 and no more than $3,500
- A license revocation of two years
A third DUI conviction will carry:
- A minimum of 120 days in jail and a maximum of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail
- Probation for eleven months and twenty-nine days
- A fine of no less than $1,100 and no more than $10,000
- License revocation of six years
What Is A Felony DUI: The Penalties
Since a felony charge is more severe with major consequences, you can expect that a felony DUI will come with significant legal consequences. These include:
- A minimum of 150 days in jail and up to six years
- Fines between $3,000 and $15,000
- License revocation for a minimum of 5 years or indefinitely
- Mandatory Ignition interlock device installation
- Possible attendance in a mandatory drug treatment program
- Possible attendance in an alcohol safety DUI program
- Possible community service
- Possible vehicle seizure
Speak With A felony DUI Attorney At Barnes & Fersten
If you have questions about your DUI charge, including what is a felony DUI or have not yet secured the representation of an experienced felony DUI lawyer in Tennessee, reach out to us as soon as possible. The longer you wait to hire an attorney, the fewer options might be available to you in your case.
Call the Barnes and Fersten Law Firm at 865-805-5703 to schedule your private DUI case consultation today, or you can use our online contact form. We also offer the convenient option of online video consultations if you are unable to come to our office.
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.