The definition for DUI in Tennessee is in section 55-10-401 of the Tennessee Code. This code makes it illegal to drive under the influence of any intoxicant that impairs a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. While this code does not articulate an objective means of deciding whether or not a driver is legally impaired due consumption of marijuana or other controlled substances, the law does define how to test for legal impairment due to alcohol objectively.
Regarding the threshold for legal impairment due to alcohol, the law of the land in Tennessee is that you are considered to be drunk driving if your breath or blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher. However, that threshold is lowered to 0.04% if the driver is operating a commercial motor vehicle.
You Are Not a Bad Person if You Were Arrested for DUI
The lawmakers of Tennessee have taken the problem of driving under the influence or drunk driving very seriously. Moreover, the flexibility and discretion that law enforcement showed years ago when giving suspected DUI/DWI offenders a warning have gone the way of the dinosaur. Most law enforcement agencies, if not all, in the state of Tennessee, have adopted a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to arresting suspected offenders. However, it is not only the lawmakers and the police officers that are aggressively trying to rid Tennessee’s roadways of impaired drivers, but there are also billboards and commercials that are trying to get the message across.
One of the results of this concerted effort is that offenders are often vilified. However, at the Matt Brock Law Firm, we have years of experience defending DUI/DWI offenders, and we know that most of the time or clients are good people who just made a mistake. Our clients are not monsters, and they are not people who do not value the lives of others. Rather, our clients and probably the majority of all first-time offenders are valuable members of society who used some bad judgment.
Hiring an Experienced DUI/DWI Attorney is Crucial
Tennessee DUI penalties are designed to curb future offenses, as such, the range of penalties that an offender faces are serious. For example, a first-time offender in the state of Tennessee may face jail time ranging from 2 days to just under 12 months. Moreover, this first-time offender may face fines up to $1,500, a license revocation or suspension for up to a year and court costs up to $4,900. In other words, first-time offenders can go to jail for up to a year, can lose their license for up to 1 year, and pay up to $6,400 in fines and court costs.
However, an experienced attorney not only knows all the laws and penalties when it comes to DUI/DWI offenses but also knows that how the client is presented to the Court or prosecutor means just as much or more when it comes to sentencing. At the Matt Brock Law Firm, we understand the importance of telling our client’s whole story. Our clients’ lives did not start on the date of their offense. As such, we get to know our clients, and we make sure that the Court understands the type of person that is standing before them on the date of sentencing.
Our first goal at the Matt Brock Law Firm is to pursue a dismissal of all charges aggressively. If that is not possible, our focus shifts to getting our client’s charges reduced to a non-DUI offense. Finally, if those two options are not available, we actively negotiate for a sentence that is on the low end of the Tennessee DUI penalties range.
Tennessee takes multiple offenders seriously which is why an experienced DUI attorney is even more crucial for a client who is facing DUI/DWI for a second, third or even fourth time.
A two-time offender in Tennessee faces jail time starting at 45 days all the up to just under 12 months, a fine up to $3,500, a license revocation of 2 years, and a mandatory forfeit of the vehicle.
A three-time offender starts their jail time at a sentence of 120 days minimum; however, the offender could serve up to just under 12 months. Moreover, this offender faces fines up to $10,000, a mandatory vehicle forfeit and a license suspension from 6 to 10 years.
A fourth offense is considered a felony and an offender may face a one-year jail term, a fine up to $10,000, mandatory vehicle forfeit, and a license revocation of 8 years.
Understanding Implied Consent
In the state of Tennessee, all drivers operating a vehicle are considered to have legally given consent for the state to test them chemically. As such, if a driver refuses to submit to a chemical sobriety test, the driver will automatically lose his or her license. For how long depends on how many previous times the driver has refused and on whether or not the driver was involved in an accident. The driver’s first refusal is an automatic year and a second refusal will get your license revoked for two years. If a driver’s first refusal involves and accident, the license will be revoked for two years and if there was a death involved in the accident that time period goes up to five years.
Understanding Tennessee Ignition Interlock
If convicted of a DUI, you may be eligible for a restricted license at the Judge’s discretion. However, all restricted licenses obtained as a result of an alcohol related DUI conviction will require the use of an ignition interlock device for a minimum of one year. These systems are designed to prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has consumed any alcohol. The offender is responsible for the fees and costs associated with this device.
Putting Yourself Back Together
Being arrested for drunk driving in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area is a significant event. We have seen many DUI/DWI offenders crumble under the stress of facing a long jail sentence or losing their ability to drive. If you or anyone that you know has been arrested for driving impaired or drunk driving, please call a determined DUI defense law attorney in Chattanooga here at the Matt Brock Law Firm. Our first consultation is free, so it will not cost you anything for you to listen to us explain how to best put your life back together.