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What Are the Consequences for DUI and Child Endangerment in Tennessee?

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Campbell County criminal defense attorney

Parents who drink and drive can expect more severe punishments if they drive with their child in the car. Tennessee’s child endangerment law covers DUI offenses with a child in the car, because the child is put in danger when he or she is in a car with an impaired driver. The broad definition of child endangerment is any act -- or neglect of an act -- that causes a child to suffer physical, emotional, or psychological abuse. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reported that in 2017, DUI-related accidents were the cause of 220 child fatalities (of 1,147) nationally, and 118 of these were children inside the vehicles of drunk drivers.

Tennessee Drunk Driving Punishments

Adults who are charged with a DUI without a child present can expect jail time and fines, depending on how many previous charges they have received. The following are the penalties a Tennessee motorist can face with a DUI charge:

  • First offense: Fines of $350 to $1,500, a jail term of at least 48 hours and up to one year, and license revocation for one year.

  • Second offense: Fines of $600 to $3,500, a jail term of 45 days to one year, and license revocation for two years.

  • Third offense: Fines of $1,100 to $10,000, a jail term of 120 days to one year, and license revocation for six years.

  • Fourth offense: Class E felony with fines of $3,000 to $15,000, a prison term of one year with 150 consecutive days, and license revocation for eight years.

Unlike a normal DUI, if there is a child in the car with a drunk driver, the violator will be charged with a felony, even if it is their first offense. If the child is injured during the violation, the motorist will be charged with a Class D felony, punishable by a $1,000 fine and a prison term of two to 12 years. If the child is killed, the intoxicated driver will be charged with a Class B felony, punishable by a $1,000 fine and a prison term of eight to 30 years. These punishments come along with the aforementioned normal DUI punishments.

It is also possible that a drunk driver could be charged with vehicular homicide if the child (or another person) dies during a DUI-related accident. This charge is a Class B felony that is charged when a drunk driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. A motorist who is convicted of this offense will lose his or her driver’s license for three to 10 years.

Contact a Jacksboro, TN DUI Defense Attorney

A person should never get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, especially with a child. However, a DUI-related accident can happen when a driver believes he or she is not drunk. The knowledgeable lawyers at the Law Office of William F. Evans can help examine the evidence taken at the scene of the traffic stop and make sure you are not being wrongly punished. To schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Campbell County drunk driving defense lawyer, call our office today at 423-449-7980.




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