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What Are the Punishments for First-Time DUI Offenders in Tennessee?

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Campbell County first-time DUI defense attorney

Many people who drink do not realize how much alcohol can impair a person's motor skills, including the ability to drive a car. Therefore, they do not understand that drunk driving -- or even just “buzzed” driving -- is dangerous not only to themselves but to people around them. The state of Tennessee does not take a DUI charge lightly, regardless if it is a first offense or a fourth. Of course, punishments become more severe the more DUI convictions a driver has. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, a driver can face other consequences if he or she causes injury or wrongful death to any victims.

What to Expect After a First DUI Conviction

It is important to know that a DUI conviction is considered a misdemeanor violation that remains on a driving record for the remainder of a motorist’s life. A DUI conviction does not become a felony in Tennessee until the fourth and subsequent offenses.

However, first-time offenders can still face incarceration, costly fines, and more, including the following punishments:

  • A minimum of 48 hours and up to one year in jail

  • Fines of up to $1,500

  • License revocation for one year with the option to apply for a restricted license

  • Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device 

  • Mandatory completion of a drug or alcohol program

Drivers can apply for restricted licenses after a DUI conviction so that they can travel to school, work, substance abuse treatment programs, or medical appointments. A Tennessee restricted license does not allow them more travel than that. An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a tool that is installed in a driver’s vehicle to keep track of his or her blood alcohol content (BAC). Each time the motorist has to drive somewhere, he or she must blow into the device, which reads his or her BAC. If the IID registers a BAC over the legal limit, the car will not start.

Other Charges That a Drunk Driver Could Face

There are several felony offenses that a drunk driver can be charged with, depending on the nature of the incident, such as: 

  • Vehicular Assault is a Class D felony that may apply when a drunk driver causes serious injury to another person, including people other cars or pedestrians. Punishments include license revocation for one to five years, imprisonment for 2 to 12 years, and fines.

  • Child Endangerment is a felony charge that may apply when a drunk driver is traveling with a passenger under the age of 18 years old. It is a Class D felony if the child is injured during a DUI incident and a Class B felony if the child is killed. A drunk driver can face up to 30 years in prison for this crime.

  • Vehicular Homicide is a Class B felony that may apply when the victim of a drunk driving incident is killed in a collision. The offending driver will have his or her license revoked for 3 to 10 years, and they may also be required to pay wrongful death compensation to the family of the deceased.

Contact a Jacksboro, TN Criminal Defense Attorney

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in severe consequences. Being convicted of DUI can be life-changing, even if it is only your first offense. The skilled attorneys at the Law Offices of William F. Evans are experienced in making sure that alleged DUI drivers do not face more extreme punishments than they deserve. To schedule a free consultation with a Campbell County DUI defense lawyer, call our office today at 423-449-7980.




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