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Problem Found With Tennessee Drunk Driving Law

June 24, 2014

It is a common misconception that you can avoid serious criminal penalties for driving while under the influence (DUI) as long as you do not cause an accident or injury. There are life-changing penalties in Tennessee for drunk drivers, and judges often impose the harshest penalties allowed under the law to deter repeat offenses.

A recent newspaper investigation uncovered a loophole in Tennessee DUI law. According to a news report in The Commercial Appeal, a person convicted of drunk driving without causing an accident can potentially face more jail time than a driver who causes a fatal accident while driving under the influence. Proponents of the law believe that it rightfully gives judges the ability to decide what types of penalties the defendant should face. Others, however, believe that the law unfairly punishes drunk drivers who did not cause an accident, and does not impose harsh enough punishment for those responsible for causing a fatal crash.

Here are examples of DUI offenses in Tennessee and some of their potential penalties:

  • Refusal to submit blood alcohol test: First-time offenders will face a license revocation of one year.
  • DUI with BAC over .08 percent: A first offense can result in between 48 hours and one year in jail, a license revocation of one year, and a fine of $1,500.
  • DUI with BAC of .2 percent: First-time offenders with a BAC of .2 percent or greater face a minimum seven consecutive days in jail.
  • Second DUI offense: A second DUI conviction can result in between 45 days and one year in jail along with a fine of $3,500 and a two-year license revocation.
  • Vehicular assault: Individuals convicted for DUI resulting in serious injury to another can face jail time between two and 12 years plus fines and court costs.
  • Vehicular homicide: Killing someone while drunk can result in Class B felony charges punishable by a license revocation of three to 10 years.

There are loopholes in the legal system and judges are afforded the power to determine the severity of the penalties the defendant will face. All drivers charged with DUI in Tennessee would be well advised to seek legal guidance or risk facing unfairly harsh penalties. An experienced Knoxville DUI defense lawyer can help you fight your drunk driving charges and protect you from unnecessarily harsh penalties.