Every U.S. state considers the act of driving under the influence, also known as DUI, to be a crime. While Tennessee law does carry stiff penalties for committing DUIs, first-time offenses obviously tend to carry lighter sentences in general circumstances.
Potential First-Time Offender Penalties
A first-time DUI in the state of Tennessee can include the following penalties:
• Jail time of up to 29 days
First-time offenses do not guarantee the avoidance of jail. Depending on the DUI situation in question, it’s possible a conviction could lead to 30 days in prison.
• The loss of a driver’s license for one year
Operating a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. A DUI conviction can result in the convicted person losing the ability to drive for up to one year.
• Mandatory participation in an alcohol or drug treatment program
Depending on the case, it’s possible the judge could require a DUI convict to participate in an alcohol or drug-treatment program. There have also been situations where the convict undergoes some form of psychiatric evaluation as part of their restitution.
Should this occur, it’s important to approach the treatment program with an open mind. Even as a deterrent against future violations, a support group can play a huge role in social interaction.
• Payments to any person that suffered physical injury due to the DUI.
Anyone injured in the DUI, either survivors or the surviving family members of a victim, can seek restitution from the convicted individual. The judge may decide to include that restitution as part of their order, but it’s also possible the victims and/or survivors could seek additional restitution through the court system.
• Court and legal fines ranging from $350 to $1,500.
In addition to the fines levied by the judge, the convicted individual could be made responsible for any legal/court fees for appearing in court.
It should be noted here that all of these potential consequences could occur in any sequence. A judge could decide to apply one penalty, all of them, or some combination unique to the case in question.
• Ignition interlock device (IID)
Basically a bicycle lock for your car. A person with an IID on their vehicle has to submit to a portable breathalyzer test to confirm their lack of intoxication before being allowed to turn the vehicle on.
Also referred to as breath alcohol ignition interlock devices, or BAIID, an IID tends to be about the size of a smartphone, allowing anyone to have them on their person at all times. The court may require you to purchase and maintain the device yourself, adding to the additional costs of the DUI.
• Additional Penalties
The DUI consequences can be compounded with additional charges, such as Child Endangerment, Property Damage, Vehicular Assault and/or Manslaughter, or any other applicable charges. The penalties for any additional charges could lead to longer prison sentences, larger fines, further court/legal/clinical costs, and any lost wages that could result from the inability to operate a motor vehicle.
If you have been accused of a DUI and need to learn about defense strategies in the event of a DUI, contact the Clarke Law Firm today.