Memphis DUI Penalties
Getting your first DUI is always an upsetting experience. You may have had no idea you were over the limit, which makes it even worse when you are pulled over and charged with a crime. You quickly realize that a single mistake can cause damage to your life that will last for years.
Whether you have just been charged with your first DUI, or you have gotten multiple DUIs, it is important to understand the potential punishments you face. Accurate information will allow you to see the risks clearly and to appreciate the severity of your situation. Once you know the possible penalties of a DUI conviction, it is much easier to appreciate the necessity of hiring a skilled DUI lawyer.
DUI In Tennessee
Tennessee considers driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher to be driving under the influence. The 0.08% level is the minimum level, but the higher your BAC the worse the penalties can be upon conviction – with 0.20% or higher ensuring you will be subject to more severe penalties.
The state of Tennessee treats underage DUI offenders differently than those of legal drinking age, taking a zero-tolerance approach. If you are under 21 years of age you only need to have a BAC of 0.02% or higher to be charged with a DUI.
Keep in mind that alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to a DUI in Tennessee. It is possible to get a DUI due to marijuana intoxication or any other illegal or prescription drug.
The penalties for DUI convictions vary depending on the circumstances and how many prior convictions you have, with the penalties getting more severe with each subsequent conviction. While the punishments can range in severity based on the case, there are a number of minimum penalties set by Tennessee law – all of which can be found on the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security website.
First DUI Conviction
Tennessee requires that every individual convicted of a DUI spend time in jail. For first-time offenders, the minimum time in jail is 48 hours. If your BAC is 0.20% or higher, however, you will spend a minimum of 7 days in jail. The maximum amount of time in jail first-time offenders can be sentenced is 11 months and 29 days.
A first DUI conviction will result in the loss of your license for a year, along with an order to participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program. The fine for a first-time conviction can range from $350 to $1,500. All the costs of a first conviction can add up to around $5,000.
It is up to the judge in your case to decide if you will have to install an Ignition Interlock Device on your car. If you do have to install a device, you will have to pay for the costs of installation and maintenance, which can add up to around $1,000 per year.
Second DUI Conviction
The second time you are convicted of a DUI, the penalties jump up in severity. A second conviction requires a minimum of 45 days in jail, although the maximum time in jail remains the same as a first conviction. You will lose your license again, this time for a minimum of 2 years. After the first year you will have the option of driving on a restricted license.
The fine for a second conviction can range from $600 to $3,500, but there are other costs involved as well. The judge can again order you to install an Ignition Interlock Device at your expense, and you will be required to attend another drug and alcohol treatment program.
Your vehicle will be subject to seizure at the discretion of the judge.
Third DUI Conviction
A third DUI conviction requires a minimum of 120 days in jail, with the maximum time in jail remaining the same as with a first-time conviction. A third offense means losing your license for 6-10 years, with no option for getting a restricted license. The fine for a third conviction ranges from $1,100 to $10,000, and your vehicle again becomes subject to seizure.
The judge can require you to install an Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle, and you will be required to attend another drug and alcohol treatment program.
Fourth DUI Conviction
A fourth DUI conviction is considered a Class E Felony, with a minimum of 150 days in jail. The fine for a fourth conviction ranges from $3,000 to $15,000. Your license will be revoked for at least eight years, with no option for a restricted license. You will be required to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program, and the judge could require you to pay for the installation and maintenance of an Ignition Interlock Device.
Your vehicle may be seized at the judge’s discretion.
Misdemeanor DUI Versus Felony DUI
The majority of DUIs are considered misdemeanors, but it is possible to be charged with a felony if you get four DUIs in a row, or if your DUI involved other offenses, including:
- Vehicular Assault (Class D Felony) – Causing serious injury to someone else while you were driving under the influence.
- Vehicular Homicide (Class B Felony) – Causing the death of another while you were driving under the influence.
- Child Endangerment – Getting a DUI with a child in the car, or causing the injury or death of a child while driving under the influence. A Class D Felony if the child suffers injury.
- Aggravated Vehicular Assault While Driving Intoxicated (Class A Felony) – Causing injury to another while driving intoxicated, when you have two or more prior DUI convictions, or related convictions.
The Importance Of A Skilled DUI Attorney
The penalties and the long-term damage to your life increase significantly with each DUI conviction, making it extremely important to hire an attorney as soon as you are charged with a DUI. A skilled attorney can help you get your charges reduced, or maybe even dropped altogether. Not only does getting your charges reduced help you avoid heavy fines and jail time now, it also helps to protect you should you ever find yourself facing another DUI. Without a lawyer you are at the mercy of the court.
At Hamilton Law Firm, we appreciate the hardship you are facing. More importantly, we want to help. Our experienced legal team can ensure that your rights are protected and that you are treated fairly by the Tennessee courts. We will do everything we can to build a strong defense on your behalf.
Contact Our Memphis DUI Team Today!
If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a DUI, we encourage you to contact our firm immediately to discuss your legal options. We are here to listen to your story and to give you knowledgeable advice on what steps to take next. There really is no time to lose. Please contact our firm now to talk with one of our experienced DUI lawyers so that we can get started on your case!