Understanding Memphis Felony DUI Charges
The state of Tennessee treats anyone convicted of a DUI harshly, handing down serious penalties that may include heavy fines, losing your driving privileges and worse. But while most DUI charges are considered misdemeanors, it is possible to receive even harsher punishments if you are convicted of felony DUI charges.
Every individual facing DUI charges should have a DUI attorney at hand to provide knowledgeable legal guidance and a strong defense – especially those facing DUI felony charges. At Hamilton Law Firm, we deliver passionate and effective DUI defense for clients ranging from Memphis to Germantown, and everywhere in between. If you or someone you love has been arrested or charged with felony DUI, it is imperative that you contact our firm immediately. There is no time to lose.
The Difference Between A Misdemeanor And A Felony DUI
Most DUIs in the state of Tennessee are misdemeanors. When a police officer pulls you over and discovers that you have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of over. 0.08%, you can expect to be charged with a misdemeanor DUI. The BAC level is even lower for any driver under the age of 21 – a BAC of 0.02% or higher will lead to a misdemeanor DUI if you are under the legal drinking age.
It is important to understand that you can get a DUI for driving under the influence of substances other than alcohol. While the most common DUIs come from alcohol consumption, drivers have been known to be charged with DUI for marijuana and other controlled substances.
The penalties for a misdemeanor DUI vary depending on the circumstances and most significantly from conviction to conviction. While any DUI conviction can have a serious negative impact on your life, the more convictions you get for DUI the more extreme the DUI penalties become. By the time you get your third conviction, you can expect a fine up to $10,000 and up to 11 months and 29 days in jail.
A felony DUI can result from several different situations, including:
- Getting your fourth DUI conviction
- Causing the death of another in an accident – known as vehicular homicide
- Causing another person serious injury in an accident – known as vehicular assault
- Causing the injury or death of a child in an accident
- Causing serious property damage in an accident
Fourth DUI Conviction – Class E Felony
One of the simplest ways to get a felony conviction through DUI is to get a DUI conviction for a fourth time. You do not have to hurt anyone or do any damage to property – a fourth conviction is enough to reach felony status. The penalties that come from a Class E felony can include a minimum of 150 days in jail, and possibly up to six years. Fines range from $3,000 to $15,000, and your license will be suspended for at least 5 years. License suspension can range from five years to indefinitely.
A conviction will also result in the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle once you get your license back, requiring you to blow into the device and demonstrate the absence of alcohol in your system before you can operate your vehicle.
There are other penalties that may or may not occur, including a requirement to seek treatment for drug and/or alcohol use, participation in an alcohol safety program and community service. The state may also seize your vehicle upon conviction.
Vehicular Homicide – Possibly Class B Felony
If your accident leads to the death of another, you could be convicted of vehicular homicide, which can be charged as a Class C or Class B felony depending on the circumstances. A Class B felony carries at least eight years of jail time upon conviction, and you can expect to lose your license for up to 10 years.
Vehicular Assault – Possibly Class D Felony
A vehicular assault charge can be a Class D felony, which carries heavier fines than a Class E Felony. A Class D felony conviction. will lead to a minimum of 2 years in jail and possibly up to 12 years, along with the loss of your license for ranging from one year to five years.
Injury or Death of a Child – Possible Class D Felony or Higher
The difference in severity of the charges depends on the severity of the damage done in the accident. Driving with a child in the car and causing an accident due to driving under the influence that leads to the injury of that child can lead to a Class D felony. If the child dies in the accident, the felony class may be higher, as well be the penalties upon conviction.
You Need An Experienced DUI Attorney
Like every other state in the U.S., Tennessee takes driving under the influence seriously and does everything it can to punish those convicted of the crime. State prosecutors do not care about your situation and are not interested in your story. They are employed to make an example of those charged with DUI, and will do everything in their power to see that you are punished to the full extent of the law. And they only become more persistent when you are charged with a felony DUI. If they can, they will throw the book at you.
After working with so many DUI clients, we want to stress the importance of hiring a competent attorney to protect yourself. We are passionate about protecting the rights of our clients, and we want to do the same for you. It is our goal as your criminal defense law firm to make sure that you get every opportunity to minimize the damage that a conviction can do to your life. We want to get your charges dropped. But even if we cannot get them dropped, we will do everything we can to get them reduced so that you can go on with your life with as little disruption as possible.
What We Do For You
Once you hire our firm, we will investigate the circumstances of your case thoroughly to find out exactly what happened – including any mistakes made by the officer involved and any failures on the part of law enforcement to do their jobs to the letter of the law. Through careful investigation of the circumstances and the current DUI laws, we are often able to find inconsistencies that can make all the difference in your case.
We also provide support to you throughout the case. We will advise you on exactly what to do – and what not to do – from start to finish. Our team will keep you updated as things change, and we will represent you in all legal matters to ensure that everything is done right. Our team has a proven ability to argue convincingly on behalf of our clients, an ability we will put to full use for you. Whether we are negotiating with the prosecution, or seeking to demonstrate to the court why you should be treated fairly and with compassion, we will do all we can to protect your interests and get you the best possible result from your case.
Contact Our Memphis DUI Team Today
Please contact us now at Hamilton Law Firm so we can begin building your defense. The sooner you call, the sooner we can get started on your case.