What is a DUI in Tennessee?

DUI Defense - Ben Powers, Nashville AttorneyTennessee DUI laws make it unlawful for any person to drive or be in physical control of any automobile or motor driven vehicle on any public road, highway, streets or alleys, or while on the premises of any shopping center, trailer park, apartment complex, or any other premises generally frequented by the public at large while (1) under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, narcotic drug, or drug producing stimulating effects on the central nervous system or; (2) the alcohol concentration in the person’s blood is .08% or higher. In other words, Tennessee DUI law is broad.

However, Tennessee courts have given specific interpretations and meanings to terms and concepts found within the Tennessee law – such as “physical control,” “motor vehicle,” and other key terms which may be pertinent to your case. Additionally, there are several constitutional rights that apply to DUI investigations such as your right to remain silent, your right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures, and the requirement that officers have probable cause to investigate and arrest you.

That is why it is important to have an attorney who has the knowledge and expertise to properly evaluate your case, review the facts in your case, and provide you with a strong defense.

DUI Offenses and Penalties in Tennessee

Violation of Implied Consent Law

Tennessee Implied Consent Law say that “any person who drives a motor vehicle in this state is deemed to have given consent to a test or tests for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of that person’s blood, a test or tests for the purpose of determining the drug content of the person’s blood, or both tests.”

A violation of this law (i.e. not consenting to a blood draw or breath test) if convicted causes a loss of driver’s license for 1 year and money fines.

However, you should never give consent to a blood draw or breath test. It is better to risk a loss of your license for 1 year for not consenting to a blood draw or breath test, than it is to consent to those tests and risk a DUI conviction (which also causes a loss of your license for 1 year – in addition to possible jail time, probation, and the other consequences listed under the following DUI sections).

Vehicular Assault

Tennessee Vehicular Assault law is, essentially, a DUI that causes serious injury to another person. Vehicular Assault in Tennessee is a D Felony and, if convicted, carries a possible penalty of 2 – 12 years jail time, and a possible fine of up to $5,000.00, and loss of license for 1 year without the possibility of getting a restricted license.

Plus the additional costs of bail fees, high risk insurance costs, court costs, license reinstatement fees, possible probation fees, and other financial consequences.

Child Endangerment

In Tennessee, if there is a child under 18 in the car at the time of the DUI offense, then the penalties are enhanced and the minimum DUI jail time is 30 days to serve and a $1,000 fine – in addition to the other penalties for DUI if convicted.

However, if the child under 18 is injured as a result of the DUI offense, then the charge becomes a D Felony which, if convicted, carries a possible penalty of 2 – 12 years jail time, and a possible fine of up to $5,000.00, and loss of license for 1 year without the possibility of getting a restricted license.

Plus the additional costs of bail fees, high risk insurance costs, court costs, license reinstatement fees, possible probation fees, and other financial consequences.

Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular Homicide in Tennessee is a fatal crash caused by DUI with .08 or higher blood alcohol content in the person’s system. Vehicular Homicide in Tennessee is a B Felony that, if convicted, has the possible punishment of 8 – 30 years prison time, a $25,000 fine, and loss of license for 3 – 10 years without the possibility of getting a restricted license.

Misdemeanor defense - Ben Powers, Nashville Attorney

DUI (1st)

A DUI (1st) in Tennessee is an A Misdemeanor. The punishment under Tennessee DUI law for a first time conviction requires a mandatory minimum of 48 hours jail time and a maximum potential jail time of 11 months, 29 days.

However, if the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of the person is higher than .20% then the minimum jail time is 7 consecutive days to serve.

Also, in Tennessee DUI law a first time conviction for DUI causes the person to lose his or her license for 1 year, requires the person to participate in an alcohol and drug treatment program, has a potential fine of $350.00 – $1,500.00.

Plus the additional costs of bail fees, high risk insurance costs, court costs, license reinstatement fees, probation fees, and other costs that are a consequence of a DUI in Tennessee.

DUI (2nd)

A DUI (2nd) in Tennessee is an A Misdemeanor. The punishment under Tennessee DUI law for a first time conviction requires a mandatory minimum of 45 days jail time and a maximum potential jail time of 11 months, 29 days.

Also, in Tennessee DUI law a second conviction for DUI causes the person to lose his or her license for 2 years, the person’s vehicle is subject to seizure or forfeiture, requires participation in an alcohol and drug treatment program, has a mandatory fine of $600.00 – $3,500.00.

Plus the additional costs of bail fees, high risk insurance costs, court costs, license reinstatement fees, probation fees, and other costs that are a consequence of a DUI in Tennessee.

DUI (3rd)

A DUI (3rd) in Tennessee is an A Misdemeanor. The punishment under Tennessee DUI law for a first time conviction requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 120 days in jail and a maximum potential jail time of 11 months, 29 days.

Also, in Tennessee DUI law a third conviction for DUI causes the person to lose his or her license for 6 years, the person’s vehicle is subject to seizure or forfeiture, requires the person to participate in an alcohol and drug treatment program, has a mandatory fine of $1,000.00 – $10,000.00.

Plus the additional costs of bail fees, high risk insurance costs, court costs, license reinstatement fees, probation fees, and other costs that are a consequence of a DUI in Tennessee.

DUI (4th or more)

A DUI (4th) in Tennessee is an E Felony. The punishment under Tennessee DUI law for a fourth DUI conviction requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 150 consecutive days in jail and a maximum potential jail time of 6 years.

Also, in Tennessee DUI law a fourth conviction for DUI causes the person to lose his or her license for 8 years, the person’s vehicle is subject to seizure or forfeiture, requires the person to participate in an alcohol and drug treatment program, has a mandatory fine of $3,000.00 – $15,000.00.

Plus the additional costs of bail fees, high risk insurance costs, court costs, license reinstatement fees, probation fees, and other costs that are a consequence of a DUI in Tennessee.

Have a legal question? Contact Legal Powers today for your consultation.

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