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How Are First-Time DUI Offenses Sentenced in Tennessee?

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Campbell County criminal defense attorney DUI

In Tennessee, a first-time driving under the influence (DUI) offense may result in a wide variety of penalties. In other words, even if it is your first time getting charged or convicted with a DUI/DWI, you still will face some challenging and often relatively steep penalties. What is more, depending on the circumstances, the judge may get creative with the sentencing in hopes of reducing recidivism and discouraging you from subsequent DUI arrests. 

First-Offense DUI Punishments in Tennessee

You may already know this, but the penalties for DUI offenses in Tennessee are quite vast. Even the first-time DUI offense may carry with it all or any of the following punishments:

  • Jail time (from 48 hours up to almost one year)

  • Revocation of license for one year

  • Alcohol and drug treatment program participation

  • Payment of restitution to anyone injured by your DUI or anyone who lost a loved one due to your DUI

  • Fees of nearly $5,000 for towing, bail, attorneys, reinstatement, court costs, insurance

  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation

6 Innovative Sentences for DUI Offenders

As you can see, it is not simply one or two penalties for that first-time DUI offense; it can be multiple forms of punishment. Depending on your judge, though, that diverse set of penalties could be exponentially more creative and expansive. For instance, consider these possible results of DUI sentencing:

  1. Victim Impact Panels—Often presented by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), these panels give victims of drunk driving the chance to speak their minds with drunk-driving offenders in their presence. In a way, it helps the victims heal and the offenders empathize enough to not make such a risky and dangerous decision next time.

  2. Court-Ordered Community Service—Rather than bogging down what could be a one-time offender with penalties that do not actually help the community, some judges ask that convicted DUI offenders complete a specific amount of hours performing community services around town through volunteering to help the elderly and the sick, or assist with highway cleanup, among other things.

  3. Ankle Bracelet—While not part of most judge’s decisions for first-time DUI offenses, there are instances of home monitoring with ankle bracelets (house arrest) for some DUI offenders, preventing them from driving but also forcing them to serve time.

  4. Court-Ordered Attendance at Rehab or ER Hospitals—Similar to Tennessee’s common practice of asking DUI offenders to attend alcohol and drug treatment programs, court-ordered visits to hospitals are meant to show those convicted of DUIs how traumatic and devastating driving while drunk can be. In some cases, at the end of these visits, the DUI offenders must write essays reflecting on their experiences and what they saw in terms of injuries to DUI car accident victims.

  5. Bumper Stickers—Similar to sex offenders having to introduce themselves to neighbors as such, there have been instances of judges requiring DUI offenders to put a bumper sticker on their vehicles denoting that they have been convicted of a DUI. Needless to say, this idea has not caught on.

  6. Flowers at the Gravesite—In the similar spirit of Tennessee’s concept of restitution for the victims, some judges across the country ask in the cases of intoxicated vehicular manslaughter in particular, even if tied to a first-time DUI, that the convicted DUI offender place flowers on the victim’s gravesite regularly for a year or more. Again, this idea is not as widespread as the others. 

Contact a Jacksboro, TN Criminal Defense Lawyer

While you may not see all of the above creative sentencing in a courtroom near you, you never really know what to expect, so it is critical that you are prepared for anything. Most importantly, hire an experienced Campbell County DUI defense attorney to help you obtain the best chance at avoiding a conviction and sentence altogether. The talented team at the Law Office of William F. Evans will provide you with the representation you need. Call us today at 423-449-7980 to schedule a free consultation.



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