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Knoxville DUI defense lawyerTennessee has rather harsh DUI penalties, even for first (and hopefully only) DUIs. You have likely already suffered through a one-year license suspension, DUI education programs, probation, or even jail time. So what happens if you get another DUI? The penalties you will face in Tennessee get progressively harsher with each DUI, going all the way up to a two-year prison term. 

It is clear from the sentencing guidelines that this state takes drunk driving incredibly seriously. If you are facing your second, third, or subsequent DUI it is extremely important that you work with experienced legal counsel to give yourself the best chances of a more positive outcome. 

What Happens After a Second DUI? 

While a first DUI can be quite serious, a second drunk driving charge is worse. Courts may see a first DUI as a learning opportunity, but are unlikely to be as forgiving after a second incident. This time, the period of driver’s license suspension is two years and you could be facing up to 11 months in jail. The minimum jail sentence, however, is 45 days - substantially longer than the 48-hour minimum a first DUI carries. You will also probably be ordered to substance abuse treatment, and you will have an interlock system in your vehicle when you begin driving again. 

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Anderson County DUI Defense attorneyIn Tennessee, driving under the influence of any drug is illegal, whether the drug was prescribed to you or not. Being prescribed a medication makes it legal for you to possess and use that medication according to your doctor’s instructions, but you could still find yourself charged with a DUI if you drive after taking it. In fact, Tennessee law explicitly states that having a valid prescription is no defense to a DUI. If you are facing DUI charges, whether it is your first DUI or a second or subsequent DUI, you will want an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and fight for a good outcome in your case. 

What Prescription Drugs Could Lead to a DUI Charge? 

A number of prescription medications can impact your ability to drive safely - and legally. If you are prescribed any of these drugs, you will need to be careful to avoid driving while you are under their influence. Even some medications you do not think of as a narcotic can lead to a DUI charge in Tennessee if they affect your mental state. You could face DUI charges after taking: 

  • Narcotic Painkillers - This category is fairly clear - prescription pain medications like Oxycodone and Dilaudid impair your ability to drive, and you will get a DUI if you drive after taking them.

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Oak Ridge DUI defense attorneyTennessee is known for having the harshest penalties for first-time DUIs in the country. Unlike most other states, a first DUI comes with a one-year loss of driving privileges. But you probably still need to get to work or school, doctor’s appointments, or just the grocery store. There are legal options for retaining at least limited driving privileges after one DUI. You will need a knowledgeable attorney to represent you and help you retain your driving privileges in Tennessee. If you have been charged with a first DUI, getting a good attorney should be a high priority for you. 

What is a Restricted License? 

A restricted license allows you to keep your driving privileges, but with restrictions. In Tennessee, this means you may only be allowed to drive to certain places and at certain times. For example, you may not be allowed to drive after a certain time in the evening, or you may only be permitted to drive to school and back home. The level and type of restrictions can vary quite a bit depending on the circumstances of your DUI and what terms your lawyer is able to negotiate. 

The purpose of a restricted license is to prevent any further impaired driving - someone who has committed one DUI is not likely to be drunk while driving to work at 8:30 am on a Tuesday, nor is he likely to be drunk while driving home from work later that day. A restricted license, however, would prevent that first-time offender from stopping at a bar after work, or driving to a party on the weekend, thus, in theory, preventing him from driving drunk again. 

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Posted on in DUI/DWI

Anderson County DUI Defense LawyerUnder Tennessee state law, most DUI charges are misdemeanors. There are, however, some circumstances under which a DUI can be handled as a felony. A felony DUI can carry prison time over a year and have a serious impact on your ability to secure employment and housing in the future. If you have been arrested for DUI -- especially if you have been told that it is being treated as a felony -- you will need a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney to maximize your chances of avoiding a harsh outcome. 

When Does a DUI Involve Felony Charges? 

There are several reasons a DUI might be charged as a felony. These circumstances typically involve either repeat offenses or creating a real danger, if not actual harm, to another person. Here are a few reasons a DUI might be treated as a felony in Tennessee: 

  • Fourth or Subsequent Offense - In Tennessee, a fourth DUI is automatically a felony, regardless of whether you caused harm to anyone. A minimum of 150 days must be served in jail or prison. 

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Anderson County DUI Defense LawyerThe risk of causing injuries or death is the primary reason why drunk driving is treated as such a serious criminal offense in Tennessee and throughout the U.S. When a drunk driver does actually cause an injury or fatality, the consequences they face can be especially severe. However, those who have been charged with a DUI offense involving injury or death do still have rights. An experienced DUI defense attorney can help to protect these rights and ensure that a defendant is treated fairly under the law.

Tennessee DUI Offenses Involving Injury or Death

According to Tennessee law, there are three different criminal offenses that may apply when a drunk driver injures or kills another person. The first of these, known as vehicular assault, occurs when a drunk driver causes serious—but not fatal—bodily injury. Typically, this means that the injuries result in disfigurement or loss of bodily function, or that they pose a substantial risk of death. Vehicular assault is a Class D felony, and an offender can be sentenced to a mandatory minimum incarceration period of 48 hours, along with a longer prison sentence and substantial fines. An offender's license can also be revoked for at least a year, with no possibility of a restricted driver’s license.

If a drunk driver causes a fatality, they can instead be charged with vehicular homicide. This is a Class B felony offense, which may result in a prison sentence of up to 30 years and fines of up to $25,000. A driver who is convicted of vehicular homicide will also have their license revoked for between 3 and 10 years.

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