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DUI: Establishing Prior Convictions

Driving under the influence is a serious charge with hefty consequences. Those penalties will be increased if you have certain prior convictions on your criminal record. If you have a criminal history, it is important to retain an attorney if you are currently charged with a DUI so that the attorney can assess whether your criminal history will enhance the current DUI charge.


Depending on when you were convicted, a prior DUI conviction may lead to you being charged with a DUI second or subsequent offense. There is a 10 year look back period from the date of the new offense to the date of the prior conviction. If the new DUI charge falls within the 10-year window, the prior conviction will be used against you to enhance the penalties. For example, if you have a prior DUI conviction you may be charged with a DUI second offense, which carries longer mandatory minimum jail times and higher fines.


Out of state DUI convictions can be used to enhance your current charge so long as the out of state conviction is facially valid and the elements of the offenses are the same as the elements of the comparable offense in the state of Tennessee. The 10 years look back period will apply to prior out of state DUI convictions.


The Tennessee legislature allows for the state to use prior convictions for vehicular homicide by intoxication, aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, aggravated vehicular assault, or adult driving while impaired shall be used to determine whether someone is a multiple offender and therefore enhance the DUI charge. Unlike prior DUI convictions, these offenses are not subject to the 10 years look back rule. Therefore, any conviction of the listed offenses will be used to enhance the penalties your currently face.

If you have been charged with DUI, contact Baker Associates for a free consultation.