Driving under the influence (DUI, also sometimes called DWI or OUI) is one of the most commonly committed crimes in the United States. Many people make the mistake of taking their DUI arrests lightly instead of seeking appropriate legal representation from a lawyer. If you're convicted of DUI, you will face tough penalties including: jail time, loss of driving privileges, fines and community service. If you've been charged, your first step should be to discuss your situation with a DUI attorney to help you:
- Understand your charges
- Become aware of your rights under the law
- Identify illegal police actions (such as failure to read Miranda Rights)
- Determine which defenses apply to your case
If you are facing a DUI charge, it is important to understand that the state of Tennessee mandates a minimum punishment for DUI convictions. In Tennessee, a minimum $465 fine, 48 hours in jail, mandatory DUI school and three days of trash pickup come with a first offense. Jail time, fines and community service hours increase with each additional DUI offense. If you have been convicted of a previous DUI within 10 years (including out of state convictions), you will be facing harsher mandatory punishments.
DUI Felony vs. Misdemeanor
Under Tennessee law, the majority of DUI charges are not felonies, but rather, misdemeanors. In some cases, felony charges can arise out of a DUI. For example, if a person driving under the influence is involved in an accident that results in the serious injury of another person, they can be charged with Vehicular Assault, a Class D felony carrying between 2-12 years in prison.
After a person has received three DUI convictions, any subsequent DUI charge will be a Class E Felony. In adding up previous DUI convictions, the State will look back 10 years. If any convictions are found they can look back another 10 years. A conviction of a fourth (or more) DUI offense carries punishments by law of:
- Jail time of a minimum of 150 days (day for day) to up to six years
- $3,000 - $15,000 fine
- Attendance at DUI School and an alcohol rehabilitation program
- Alcohol and drug addiction assessments
- Installation of ignition interlock device
- License revocation for 8 years
- Vehicle forfeiture
For these reasons, it is important to consult with a DUI attorney immediately following your DUI arrest. An experienced lawyer understands the intricacies of DUI law and can work with the court system to either dismiss your DUI charge or lessen the punishments it currently carries. Jay Perry is an experience DUI attorney with a firm located in Chattanooga. Jay Perry also has specific experience representing college students and others facing criminal charges.