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Consequences of Repeat DUI Offenses in Tennessee

April 22, 2014

There are harsh penalties in Tennessee for individuals who drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI). These penalties increase dramatically when the driver is a repeat offender. If you have been arrested on suspicion of a repeat DUI offense, do not speak to the authorities until you have an attorney present. The penalties for repeat offenses are severe and they could affect every aspect of the defendant’s life.

First time DUI offenders in Tennessee could face between 48 hours and one year in jail as well as a license revocation, a fine of up to $1,500, and mandatory participation in alcohol and drug treatment program. A second DUI conviction can result in jail time of up to one year, a fine of up to $3,500, and a license revocation for two years. A third conviction can result in between 120 days and one year in jail as well as a fine of up to $10,000 and a license revocation for up to 10 years.

The penalties increase even more for drivers who have a fourth and subsequent DUI conviction. A fourth conviction in Tennessee is a Class E Felony punishable by a year in jail with a minimum of 150 consecutive days served as well as a fine of up to $15,000 and a license revocation for eight years.

As of July 1, 2013, repeat offenders in Tennessee are required to install Breathalyzer devices in their vehicles known as “ignition interlock systems.” These devices require the driver to take a breath test before they can start their vehicles. If the driver has any alcohol on his or her breath, the car won’t start. This costly and inconvenient device is designed to prevent repeat offenses.

Despite these consequences, it is relatively common for drivers to face multiple offenses in Tennessee. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 29,093 DUI arrests in Tennessee in 2012, resulting in 25,930 convictions. Statewide, there are currently 59,208 three-time offenders and 17,342 five-time offenders.

It is important to take DUI charges seriously because the prosecution may pursue the harshest penalties allowed by law to deter repeat offenses. There were over 200 people killed in alcohol-related crashes in Tennessee in 2013, so there is a real public outcry for harsh penalties for drunk drivers. There are ways to fight DUI charges and to negotiate for reduced penalties, but you will have to act quickly to get a skilled Tennessee DUI defense attorney on your side.