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Is a DUI Charge Considered a Criminal Offense in Tennessee?

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Campbell County criminal defense attorney DUI

If you are ever arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you need to realize that in Tennessee, a DUI is a very serious criminal offense and not just a minor traffic violation. If you do not realize this, you are not alone—nearly half of Americans across the nation do not consider DUI or DWI charges a criminal charge with criminal consequences under most circumstances. 

This could be for many reasons, one of which is the fact that every state has its own laws about drunk driving—Wisconsin for one has first-time DUI offenses punishable as traffic violations while subsequent DUI charges are considered criminal. In New Jersey, all DUIs are treated as traffic offenses. Even in New York, the law is a bit more lenient with regards to what is considered criminal concerning DUIs--first-offense DUI and second-offense DUI charges are viewed as traffic infractions while third-time DUI introduces criminality into the charges.

As you can see, since every state has specific laws, rules, and regulations about drunk driving, it can be difficult to know where your state—the great state of Tennessee—stands on the issue. Here is a closer look at how DUI charges are classified under Tennessee law. 

DUI Is Always a Crime in Tennessee

The most important fact to understand about Tennessee with regards to DUI charges is that under no circumstance is any type of driving under the influence not considered a crime. Here is how that breaks down according to the associated criminal charge classification:

  • First DUI offense—Treated as a class A misdemeanor, with punishments as high as between 48 hours and up to 11 months, 29 days of jail time, and between $350 and $1,500 in fines, among other penalties.

  • Second DUI offense—Considered a class A misdemeanor if it is within 10 years of the first offense, with jail time as high as 45 days to 11 months, 29 days, and between $600 and $3,500 in fines, among other consequences.

  • Third DUI offense—If within 10 years of the other DUI offenses, classified as a class A misdemeanor with penalties as high as 120 days to 11 months, 29 days in jail, and between $1,100 and $10,000 in fines, among other punishments.

  • Fourth and Subsequent Repeat DUI Offenses—Considered a class E felony with up to one full year in jail and between $3,000 and $15,000 in fines, among other penalties.

Notice that the first, second, and third DUI offenses are considered misdemeanor DUIs, which means they are classified as less severe than fourth and higher DUI offenses, which are categorized as felony DUIs, making them much more serious and their penalties far steeper. 

Note as well that any DUI offense can be compounded to other more serious charges depending on the circumstances. For instance, if your drunk driving kills or injures someone, damages property, or puts a child in danger, even if it is only your first DUI offense, it will be charged as more than simply a misdemeanor.

Contact a Jacksboro, TN DUI Defense Lawyer

Whether it is your first time with a DUI or it is your second or third time with a DUI or other criminal charge, you need to contact a skilled Campbell County criminal defense attorney with the experience necessary to win your case. Call the knowledgeable team from the Law Office of William F. Evans today at 423-449-7980 to schedule a free consultation.




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