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New Tennessee Law Aims to Decrease Drugged Driving Violations

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Campbell County drugged driving defense attorney

The state of Tennessee enacted 18 new laws starting the first of the new year, one of which looks to decrease or put an end to the number of drugged drivers who hit the road while under the influence. Tennessee’s new opioid law that took effect on January 1, 2020, is meant to keep hard drugs out of the hands of people who should not be taking them. It will require that all opioid prescriptions be sent directly to pharmacies via an electronic note from a doctor. Opioid prescriptions will no longer be filled with a written prescription. The hope is that the drugs will stay with the patients who need them for medical purposes, lessening the likelihood that people will drive while under the influence of drugs.

Penalties for DUI Drugged Driving

Tennessee is giving pharmacies the entire year of 2020 to update their equipment in order to receive electronic opioid prescriptions. That means at the start of 2021, written prescriptions will no longer be available.

However, just because this extra measure is being worked through, driving drugged is still a major issue that comes with serious consequences. Tennessee law prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle under any type of addictive substance including opioids, alcohol, marijuana, and narcotics. First offenders of the law will be fined $350 to $1,000 and have their driver’s license suspended for one year.

Subsequent offenses will result in more severe penalties, such as the following:

  • Second offense: Punished with a fine of $600 to $3,500, license suspension for two years, and a jail term of 45 days or up to one year. The court system may also require a driver to complete a drug program.

  • Third offense: Punished with a fine of $1,100 to $10,000, license suspension for 3 to 10 years, and a prison sentence of 120 days to one year.

  • Fourth offense (or more): Considered a Class E felony; punishable by a fine of $3,000 to $10,000, license suspension for no less than five years, and a jail sentence of no less than 150 consecutive days.

Impaired drivers who operate their vehicle with a passenger who is a minor (under 18 years old) will face further charges of child endangerment. This is punished by a mandatory prison term of 30 days and a mandatory fine of $1,000.

Other charges can be issued if an impaired driver causes a collision. The drugged driver would be required to pay compensation to the victim for any damage to the vehicle as well as medical bills. If the victim dies as a result of the collision, the drugged driver could be charged with vehicular homicide and may be required to pay compensation to the victim’s family for wrongful death.

Contact a Jacksboro, TN Criminal Defense Attorney

Driving under the influence of opioids or other controlled substances is a reckless action that can lead to fatal consequences. However, some people need to be on these types of prescription medications for medical purposes. Depending on the circumstances, you could be charged for a DUI during a traffic stop after taking opioids. Drugged driving can lead to steep fines and even jail time. The skilled lawyers from the Law Offices of William F. Evans will build a strong defense on your behalf to avoid a wrongful conviction. To schedule a complimentary consultation with a dedicated Campbell County DUI defense lawyer, call our office today at 423-449-7980.




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