Did a night out on the town end with you behind bars, charged with driving under the influence? If so, you probably have some questions about what this can mean for you now and in the future. A DUI charge is a serious matter, and the consequences associated with a conviction can be significant.
What are the DUI laws in Tennessee? What consequences can accompany a conviction? Is there any way to fight a DUI charge? These are all good questions with relatively simple answers.
Question number one: What are the DUI laws in Tennessee?
DUI laws do frequently change, but as it stands, they are currently as follows:
- In order for the state to charge you with DUI if you are of drinking age, officers must find that you have a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or higher.
- If you are an underage drinker, there is a zero-tolerance policy — meaning if you are under the age of 21 and found to have been drinking, even if you are not drunk, the state can charge you with DUI.
Question number two: What consequences can accompany a conviction?
The penalties in DUI cases range in severity. For first-time offenders who have not caused harm to anyone else, penalties include:
- Mandatory jail time — a minimum of 48 hours
- License suspension or revocation
- Fines between $350 and $1,500
- Mandatory alcohol treatment program
For a second offense, penalties may include:
- Jail time — minimum of 45 days
- Fines between $600 and $3,500
- License revocation for two years
- Ignition interlock device installation on vehicle
- Alcohol treatment program
For a third DUI offense, the penalties may include:
- Jail time — minimum of 120 days
- Fines between $1,100 and $10,000
- License revocation of six to 10 years
Finally, for subsequent DUIs or felony-level DUI charges, penalties may include:
- Jail or prison time
- Fines between $3,000 and $15,000
- Loss of license for a minimum of 8 years
If charged following a DUI-related accident that caused another person harm, the court may also order you to pay restitution to the victim.
Question number three: Is there any way to fight a DUI charge?
Yes, there is. How you go about it will depend on the details of your case. It is possible to question BAC test results, as they are known to be inaccurate. It is possible to question the validity of field sobriety tests, as they are highly subjective in nature. It is also possible to question whether the arresting officer had probable cause to initiate the traffic stop in the first place.
Fighting a DUI charge is not necessarily easy, but with the right assistance, there are things you can do to help your case and hopefully achieve a case dismissal or minimize any consequences associated with a conviction.