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Campbell County criminal law attorney DUI

A first-time DUI (driving under the influence) is a very serious charge even though it is the first offense. Tennessee takes all DUI very seriously; therefore, even first-time DUI carries with it severe consequences, some on par with other similar charges of higher degrees. However, the judicial system can be somewhat forgiving, especially if you have a talented, knowledgeable, and experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side. First, you must realize the consequences, then you can consider what to do if charged so that this never happens again.

Consequences of First-Time DUI in Tennessee

While it might only be your first time receiving a DUI charge, if convicted, you could face relatively severe penalties, including the following punishments:

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Campbell County criminal defense attorney DUI

The holidays are here, and even with the pandemic still surging throughout Tennessee and the country, for that matter, there is still an increased likelihood of drunk driving on the roads. This means that the police in Tennessee will be more vigilant about stopping drivers for a wide variety of traffic violations but, most importantly and notably, they are going to be especially focused on pulling people over for DUI. With that in mind, here is a refresher on some tips for what to do should you be pulled over this holiday for DUI to avoid any criminal charges. 

Your Actions During a Traffic Stop Matter

There are several things you could do if pulled over for DUI this holiday that are common sense, but there are other steps to take that you might not even think about doing. Whatever the case might be, here are some tips for what to do if you are pulled over for DUI this holiday:

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Campbell County DUI license reinstatement lawyerIf you have been convicted of a DUI in Tennessee, then you probably had your driver’s license revoked as a result. Of all the consequences and penalties of drunk driving with which you must cope—from treatment programs and community service to hefty fines and jail time—probably the most overlooked yet comparably difficult challenge to overcome is the loss of your license. After all, without that driver’s license, you will not be able to drive to work, the pharmacy, the grocery store, etc. This may leave you stranded, having to catch rides on someone else’s schedule. This is why getting your driver’s license reinstated is so important. Here are some facts about the driver’s license reinstatement process that you should know:

3 Facts About Driver’s License Reinstatement in Tennessee

While it might seem like an easy thing to do that just takes some paperwork, the truth is, driver’s license reinstatement is a complex and involved process, and it can be especially difficult if you are unfamiliar with the procedures. While it is true that the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security now offers e-services for license reinstatement, there are still many things that you probably will not be able to do effectively on your own without prior knowledge or assistance from a lawyer. What you should know about the process of license reinstatement is that:

  1. Driving is a privilege and not a right. This is true in Tennessee as it is everywhere else across the country. When you disobey the rules of the road, including getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, you are running the risk of having that privilege taken away, among other things.

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Campbell County criminal defense attorney DUI

In Tennessee, a first-time driving under the influence (DUI) offense may result in a wide variety of penalties. In other words, even if it is your first time getting charged or convicted with a DUI/DWI, you still will face some challenging and often relatively steep penalties. What is more, depending on the circumstances, the judge may get creative with the sentencing in hopes of reducing recidivism and discouraging you from subsequent DUI arrests. 

First-Offense DUI Punishments in Tennessee

You may already know this, but the penalties for DUI offenses in Tennessee are quite vast. Even the first-time DUI offense may carry with it all or any of the following punishments:

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Campbell County criminal defense attorney DUI

Whether it be for driving under the influence (DUI), boating under the influence (BUI), or any other criminal defense case, representing yourself is rarely, if ever, a good idea. The qualified guidance and representation of a professional DUI attorney is a much better idea here in Tennessee if you are looking for the least difficult legal process and the most advantageous outcome. Below are the reasons why it is a good idea to avoid representing yourself in a DUI case.

Why Representing Yourself in a DUI Case Is a Bad Idea

In general, representing your own defense in just about any criminal case is a bad idea, but it is an especially negative prospect in consideration of what is required with a DUI case. Here are five reasons you should not represent yourself when facing DUI charges in Tennessee:

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Campbell County criminal defense attorney BUI

While there are many similarities between the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) and boating under the influence (BUI) according to Tennessee law. While many of these are nearly equal in degrees of severity depending on the offense, there are some minor, subtle differences between the ways that they are penalized. Depending on the details of your case, you might be able to be absolved of the charges or, at the least, receive the lesser of the penalties being considered for that offense. Here are a summary and a comparison of the penalties for DUI and BUI so that you know what to expect if you are charged with any of them in Tennessee.

Tennessee Punishments for DUI and BUI Offenses

Make no mistake: Tennessee authorities will charge you severely for any crimes committed due to drunkenness above the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit, especially when it involves the operation of any type of motorized vehicle. In the cases of driving trucks or cars versus steering boats, the dangers are no less serious. That is why the penalties are severe for both, but there are some minor differences:

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Campbell County criminal defense attorney DUI

Ridesharing with companies like Lyft and Uber have been known to curb cases of DUI in many locations across the states, which is great for those pub-crawlers and bar-hoppers (and, in many cases during these pandemic days, house party-goers as well) looking for an affordable way to get home after having one-too-many drinks, but what happens if your rideshare driver gets pulled over for drunk driving while you are in the car? Are you at all responsible if you do not report it as soon as you notice something amiss in your driver’s behavior and driving? What will the police do? Does this even happen that often? Here is the scoop on rideshare DUIs.

Zero Tolerance

First of all, you should know that both Lyft and Uber have “zero tolerance” policies for drunk driving, meaning they will take swift action against the driver in question. Unfortunately, unless the police actually pull over the driver for suspected drunk driving and charge that driver for it, many passengers can just accuse drivers of drunk driving to get a refund, triggering consequences including possibly innocent drivers losing their jobs with the rideshare company being prohibited from providing services temporarily.  

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Campbell County criminal defense attorney BUI

It is common to wonder why having some drinks with friends out on a boat is as serious as driving a car while impaired. However, evidence shows that boating under the influence (BUI) can be even more dangerous than driving under the influence, and Tennessee law addresses that danger accordingly. If you are facing a BUI charge, do not hesitate to seek the help of an experienced BUI attorney in your area. Depending on the details of your case, a BUI conviction can result in steep punishment. For this reason, make sure you get all the help you need to prepare a proper defense. 

Degree of Impairment While BUI

The Coast Guard’s primary evidence for why BUI can be more dangerous than DUI is that, drink for drink, a boat operator is likely to become more intoxicated than a driver. This observation is supported by the statistic that about one-third of all recreational boating fatalities result from BUI. Because boating fatalities do not necessarily result from crashes, federal law prohibits anyone from operating any type of boat while intoxicated, whether it be a canoe or a large ship.

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Campbell County criminal defense attorney DUI

Although you consent to take roadside blood alcohol content (BAC) tests when a Tennessee DMV issues your driver’s license, there are still reasons that you may wish to contest alcohol breathalyzer tests. A 2019 New York Times investigation discovered that in many cases, alcohol breath test machines are not reliable enough to justify the nearly 1 million Americans arrested each year for driving under the influence (DUI). To gain a deeper understanding of why you and your attorney should consider contesting an alcohol breath test, it is crucial to understand why these machines mislead in so many cases. 

Breath Alcohol Tests

Part of The New York Times' investigation discovered that judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey discarded 30,000 breathalyzer tests in just one year due to human error. Thousands of more drivers have had their tests invalidated, and that alone is a strong reason to consider contesting the results of your BAC test. 

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Campbell County drunk driving defense attorney

When considering DUI laws, it is easy to forget that having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in your vehicle can have separate consequences. We will explain when and why a driver can be punished by Tennessee’s open container law, but know that if you are involved in any aspect of a DUI, it is imperative that you seek the legal guidance of an accomplished Tennessee DUI attorney. With a strong defense, you can protect your rights to the fullest extent. 

Tennessee’s Open Container Law

On paper, Tennessee’s open container law is fairly simple: If the driver has an alcoholic beverage that is open or the seal is broken and it is accessible, he or she can be punished. However, there is some fine print that should be understood about this rule. For instance, this law is designed to prevent a driver from consuming an alcoholic beverage while driving. It does not necessarily prevent passengers from having alcoholic beverages or for alcohol to be in areas of the vehicle that are inaccessible to the driver. 

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Campbell County drunk driving defense attorney

Perhaps you and a friend were enjoying a few drinks after work and your friend claims that he or she is sober enough to drive. However, you may wonder if you will be also held responsible if your friend is charged with a DUI? The short answer: Yes. Under Tennessee legislation, anyone who gets into a vehicle with an intoxicated driver is equally responsible in determining whether or not the driver is in a fit state to be behind the wheel. The details of this Tennessee law are explained below, but remember that if you are ever charged with a DUI, it is imperative that you seek assistance from an experienced Tennessee attorney to avoid a criminal conviction.

Tennessee’s DUI By Consent Law

Like in all areas of the country, Tennessee drivers who have blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit can face significant punishment that corresponds to how many times they have committed the offense. However, the driver may not be the only person subject to criminal charges. Any passengers who have agreed to let that person drive will be given the exact same DUI charges through Tennessee’s DUI By Consent law. For example, if a passenger and an intoxicated driver are both given their first DUI charge, they may face at least 48 hours of jail time, their licenses revoked, fined, the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, and more. 

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Campbell County drunk driving defense attorney

The state of Tennessee punishes those who drive under the influence (DUI) harshly, even for first-time offenders. Penalties increase for subsequent DUI convictions against a driver, but they become even more severe if a person is injured or killed because of a DUI collision. Additionally, Tennessee punishes those who flee the scene after causing a drunk driving car crash, regardless of whether it caused injury or death to a victim.

Is Fleeing the Scene Considered a Felony?

Tennessee law states that any person who flees the scene of a collision -- whether or not alcohol or drugs are involved -- will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This includes accidents which take place on or at:

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Campbell County criminal defense attorney DUI

The legal drinking age across the country is 21 years old. Anyone younger than that who drives while impaired by alcohol will face serious consequences. Minors who drive drunk risk losing their driving privileges if caught, but they also put those around them at risk of serious injury or death. Tennessee takes underage drinking and driving seriously, and because of the potential risks, a child who drinks may not be the only one facing criminal punishment. Whoever provided the minor with alcohol or drugs may also face misdemeanor or even felony charges.

Consequences of Driving Drunk as a Minor

Tennessee has three main laws that attempt to control the number of minors who drink illegally. In instances when a minor is caught drinking or attempting to purchase alcohol, he or she can still be charged under these laws, even if he or she is not driving. Tennessee’s Driving While Impaired law applies to minors aged 16-20 who have not yet hit the age of legal alcohol consumption. If caught driving drunk, a minor will have his or her license revoked and pay a fine of up to $250. The court may also require the minor to complete community service hours.

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Campbell County first-time DUI defense attorney

Many people who drink do not realize how much alcohol can impair a person's motor skills, including the ability to drive a car. Therefore, they do not understand that drunk driving -- or even just “buzzed” driving -- is dangerous not only to themselves but to people around them. The state of Tennessee does not take a DUI charge lightly, regardless if it is a first offense or a fourth. Of course, punishments become more severe the more DUI convictions a driver has. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, a driver can face other consequences if he or she causes injury or wrongful death to any victims.

What to Expect After a First DUI Conviction

It is important to know that a DUI conviction is considered a misdemeanor violation that remains on a driving record for the remainder of a motorist’s life. A DUI conviction does not become a felony in Tennessee until the fourth and subsequent offenses.

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Campbell County drugged driving defense attorney

The state of Tennessee enacted 18 new laws starting the first of the new year, one of which looks to decrease or put an end to the number of drugged drivers who hit the road while under the influence. Tennessee’s new opioid law that took effect on January 1, 2020, is meant to keep hard drugs out of the hands of people who should not be taking them. It will require that all opioid prescriptions be sent directly to pharmacies via an electronic note from a doctor. Opioid prescriptions will no longer be filled with a written prescription. The hope is that the drugs will stay with the patients who need them for medical purposes, lessening the likelihood that people will drive while under the influence of drugs.

Penalties for DUI Drugged Driving

Tennessee is giving pharmacies the entire year of 2020 to update their equipment in order to receive electronic opioid prescriptions. That means at the start of 2021, written prescriptions will no longer be available.

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Campbell County driver's license reinstatement attorney

There are many violations in Tennessee that can result in the suspension of a driver’s license, including driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol (DUI), inability to provide proof of insurance, and excessive accumulation of negative points on a driver's record. In regard to DUI suspensions, it can be a long and costly process in order to reinstate a license before a driver can legally get back on the road. Since most people drive every day, it is important to learn the proper procedures for license reinstatement if you are a Tennessee motorist. 

Penalties that Come with DUI License Suspension

Punishments for driving under the influence can be given out to adults over the age of 21 and minors who are under the legal drinking age. Minors will have their license revoked for one year if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is over 0.02 percent, and the court system can order extra punishments as it sees fit. An offender could also pay a fine of $250 and/or be required to complete a certain number of community service hours.

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Campbell County DUI defense attorney

Driving under the influence does not limit the “influence” to alcoholic beverages. In the state of Tennessee, a driver can be convicted of DUI if he or she has taken any type of intoxicating substance -- including marijuana -- prior to getting behind the wheel. Even those who take drugs legally for medical purposes can be charged with DUI if they cause a car accident with prescription medication in their systems. Furthermore, anyone who chooses to drive while under the influence of drugs must submit to a chemical and/or field sobriety test if pulled over. A driver is allowed to refuse these roadside tests, although this may result in being arrested on suspicion of DUI. Following an arrest, a driver will usually be asked to take a chemical blood alcohol test at the police station or through blood being drawn at a hospital, and refusal of these tests will result in a driver’s license revocation for at least one year.

Tennessee Law Against Drugged Driving

The more times a driver is convicted of a drug-related DUI, the more severe the penalties. If a driver is convicted more than three times, the subsequent offenses are charged as felonies that are punishable with fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges. Sentences for a conviction include:

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Campbell County multiple DUI criminal defense attorney

Most of the time, first-time offenders charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol are not given as serious charges as those who are accused of subsequent offenses. A first-time DUI may result in fines, a minimum of 48 hours in jail, and the requirement to go through a treatment program. Serious cases involving injuries or death are given stiffer penalties. However, for the most part, the state of Tennessee tries to make sure that first offenders will not be convicted of another DUI offense. The more convictions on a person’s record, the harsher the punishments will be.

What Happens if a Driver Reaches Four DUI Offenses?

With each DUI conviction, a driver sees his or her license revoked for a certain amount of time: one year for first offenses, two years for second offenses, and six years for third offenses. Drivers are able to apply for a restricted license during the period of revocation.

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Campbell County criminal defense attorney

Parents who drink and drive can expect more severe punishments if they drive with their child in the car. Tennessee’s child endangerment law covers DUI offenses with a child in the car, because the child is put in danger when he or she is in a car with an impaired driver. The broad definition of child endangerment is any act -- or neglect of an act -- that causes a child to suffer physical, emotional, or psychological abuse. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reported that in 2017, DUI-related accidents were the cause of 220 child fatalities (of 1,147) nationally, and 118 of these were children inside the vehicles of drunk drivers.

Tennessee Drunk Driving Punishments

Adults who are charged with a DUI without a child present can expect jail time and fines, depending on how many previous charges they have received. The following are the penalties a Tennessee motorist can face with a DUI charge:

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Campbell County DUI school zone lawyer

Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in all 50 states. Tennessee passed a bill earlier this year to make the penalties for DUI offenses within a school zone more severe. Since most pedestrians in school zones are children, the need for safe driving is more important in order to keep the young ones protected from injury. The new law, which was introduced and passed in February, states that anyone driving under the influence in a school zone will be subject to double the punishment for an ordinary DUI offense outside of the school zone. For misdemeanor offenders, this means that both fines and prison terms will be doubled.

New Tennessee Law

The new Tennessee law for DUI offenses within school zones also covers:

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