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When is a DUI Charged As a Felony in Tennessee?

Posted on in DUI/DWI

campbell county dui lawyerOver the past 30 years or so, there have been countless campaigns aimed at decreasing the number of people who drink and drive. While these campaigns have been successful in their goal of reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents and deaths, driving under the influence (DUI) still remains a serious issue. According to the latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the state of Tennessee saw an increase of more than 19 percent in the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities from 2018 to 2019. Tennessee law states that a person is not permitted to be under the influence of any intoxicant or have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more while operating a motor vehicle. Anyone who is even arrested for DUI can face consequences, but sometimes those consequences are more severe than others, resulting in felony charges.

Felony DUI Situations

In most cases, a DUI is charged as a misdemeanor charge, with a focus on rehabilitating the person, rather than punishing them. In cases that involve more serious situations, however, the typical misdemeanor charge can be elevated to a felony charge. According to Tennessee law, the following DUI offenses are charged and punished as felonies:

  • A fourth or subsequent DUI charge - If you are charged with DUI and you have at least three prior DUI convictions, you can be charged with a felony DUI. The offense is anywhere from a Class E to a Class C felony depending on the number of prior convictions. This means you could face a minimum of two years and a maximum of seven years in jail for a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction. 

  • DUI with a child under the age of 18 resulting in great bodily injury or death - You can also be charged with a felony DUI if you were transporting a child under the age of 18 and he or she suffered great bodily injury or death because of the incident. This could result in a Class D or a Class B felony, which carry sentences of four to seven years and eight to 11 years in prison, respectively. In addition, you may face penalties for either vehicular assault or vehicular homicide charges.

  • Vehicular assault, or causing great bodily injury to another driver while DUI - If you are found to have committed vehicular assault, this means you were found to have recklessly caused the injury of another person because of DUI. This is charged as a Class D felony and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 48 hours in prison, and has a possibility of up to seven years in prison.

  • Vehicular homicide, or killing another driver while DUI - If you kill another person with a vehicle while intoxicated, you can be charged with a Class B felony. This means you face a possible prison sentence of eight to 10 years.

Our Campbell County DUI Defense Attorney is Here to Help

If you have been charged with any type of DUI, the first step you should take is calling a knowledgeable Jacksboro, TN DUI defense lawyer. At the Law Office of William F. Evans, our team will help you form a strong defense by exploring every aspect of your case and providing you with your options, all while protecting your best interests. Our team is available to talk 24/7; to schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 423-449-7980.




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