Memphis DUI Attorney
Driving under the influence is never a good idea, and in many cases, those that earn themselves a DUI do deserve their punishment. However, it’s important to know that the Tennessee DUI laws are complex, and sometimes DUIs are administered unfairly. Considering the hefty fines and jail time associated with their receipt, it’s important that you understand all your options if you’re facing such a charge.
Factors influencing DUIs range widely, from how old you are to your blood-alcohol content to who is driving, to whether or not you were in control of your car even when the car is in park. Because the laws are so complex, and because it’s not always clear whether or not you were actually at fault, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney who specializes in DUI law.
A good firm can help you find the most favorable interpretation of your situation, and make sure that you’re not charged unfairly. Because of the serious consequences DUIs can bring to your life, work and relationships, you don’t want to skip this step or risk being uninformed when it comes time to represent yourself in court. Instead, do the smart thing and get advice.
Before discussing that more, however, you must understand the basics of DUI laws in Tennessee, so take a look at the following facts, which will help you make more sense of your case – or a loved one’s – and prep you for meeting with one of our attorneys.
DUI Laws in Tennessee: Blood Alcohol Limits
It is first and foremost important to understand Tennessee’s Implied Consent laws and penalties. According to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, “Tennessee has an “implied consent” law. This means that if you drive in Tennessee you are agreeing that you would submit to a chemical test if asked to do so by law enforcement. If you refuse then you will automatically lose your license. How long your license is suspended will depend on how many times you have refused a chemical test and whether or not the incident involves an accident.”
More simply put, if you get in a car after drinking, you are making a statement that you would be willing to undergo a blood-alcohol test that would determine your blood-alcohol limit. Refusal, as stated above, can have serious consequences, which get worse depending on a) how many times you refuse, and b) whether or not an accident occurred involving injuries and death.
Tennessee’s blood-alcohol limit, like that of many other states, is .08. This is the level at which you are presumed drunk, and you will likely receive a DUI. Higher levels can result in higher DUI penalties, though keep in mind that you are not immune to charges at lower levels if you have been deemed reckless. If you are under 21, however, the pertinent blood-alcohol limit is .02, even if the person isn’t found to be drunk. This may result in fines, license revocation and community service.
It is important you know your rights when it comes to blood-alcohol levels, like what constitutes a good reason to pull you over and whether or not the DUI is fair if you blew less than a .08. Your blood alcohol limits are only one aspect of a DUI charge, however.
DUI Laws in Tennessee: Fault
Fault is also an issue. For instance, you can be found at fault in a drunk driving incident even if you were not behind the wheel. If you allow someone else to drive, and that person is intoxicated, you may get a DUI charge as well. This rule is known as DUI by Consent, or sometimes, DUI by Ownership. If you have been charged with a DUI by association, be sure you talk to an attorney. While sometimes the ruling is sound, it may be misapplied to your situation, resulting in fines and punishment that you don’t deserve.
Another issue regarding fault is physical control. Some people pull over and sleep in their cars when they have been drinking, and so even if they aren’t moving when an officer finds them, they may incur a DUI. The issue here, according to DUI statutes, is one of “physical control,” meaning that even though the car wasn’t moving, you may not have had control over it. Several factors play into this, and it’s important to get an attorney’s help sorting them out before letting a court decide your fate.
DUI Laws in Tennessee: Jail Time and Costs
In Tennessee, DUIs come with significant jail time. Specifically:
- First-time offenders will receive a minimum of 48 hours in jail unless they blow a .20 or higher, in which case their jail time will be extended to 7 days, and may be as much as 11 months and 29 days.
- Second offenses carry a punishment of 45 days minimum but the same maximum as first-time offenses. It also comes with license revocation, which can only be used when you get it back for work, school or alcohol programs.
- Third offenses begin at 120 days in jail and a one-year maximum, as well as losing your license for 6-10 years, even if you work.
- Fourth and subsequent DUIs carry a 1-day minimum sentence and an 8-year license revocation. These are also considered felony DUI’s.
No matter how many offenses you have, a DUI charge can come with restitution to any persons you have harmed, as well as steadily mounting financial penalties. Even if you do not receive these penalties, you’ll often have to pay to get your car out of impound. Make sure these fees are fair by speaking with an attorney.
Your Penalties: Are They Fair?
So again, it’s important to ensure that the penalties you’ve been assigned are actually fair. You should never assume that all punishments meted out to you are just.
That’s where attorneys come in. They can help in a number of ways, including helping you stay up to date on current DUI laws, mitigating the chance of a conviction (which can’t be expunged from your record), and ensuring proper procedure was followed in collecting the evidence used in the case against you. For instance, it’s important to determine whether officers followed proper procedures in stopping you and testing your blood, as failure to do so could result in inadmissible evidence.
No doubt you have many other questions about receiving a DUI, which you can dig into in more detail here, or you can get in touch to speak with an attorney and learn more about your individual case.
Get the Help You Need at a Price You Can Afford
When you need help, you want to know you can get it without jeopardizing your chances of a good outcome or mortgaging your life away. Defense attorney Daniel Hamilton can help you every step of the way, assessing the facts objectively and building the strongest possible case for you, all at a price you can afford.
If your DUI was justly earned and properly executed by officers, there isn’t much you can do. However, it’s almost always worth talking to an attorney, because they are up to date on current DUI law, know how to assess the legality of the case from start to finish, and always have your best interests at heart. Come speak to us today to learn more about how we can help.