Charged With Drunk Driving? Put An Experienced Fighter In Your Corner.
Drunk driving is perhaps the most commonly charged crime in Tennessee. It occurs on a daily basis and often by accident. A person may have some drinks with dinner, not realizing that their moderate consumption puts them over the legal limit. They get pulled over on the way home and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), sometimes called driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Despite how common it is, DUI is treated very seriously by law enforcement. If you’re facing charges, the wise choice is to seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney like me, Chelsea Nicholson. At my firm in Nashville, I have dedicated more than 16 years to fighting for clients charged with a wide range of criminal offenses, including drunk driving. My comfort in the courtroom, my willingness to always fight for my clients and my impeccable track record of acquittals and successful plea deals have earned me the respect of prosecutors and judges throughout the region. I have helped countless others, and I can help you, too.
Penalties For A DUI Conviction In Tennessee
DUI charges are aggressively prosecuted in Tennessee, and convictions can result in severe penalties. Even a single, first-time conviction with no aggravating factors can lead to many months of incarceration.
In Tennessee, the consequences for DUI convictions are as follows:
- First offense: Up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, one-year license revocation, mandatory “DUI School” and/or Victim Impact Panel counseling, possible ignition interlock device (IID) requirement; mandatory seven days in jail if BAC is over 0.20%
- Second offense: Mandatory 45 days in jail and up to 11 months and 29 days of incarceration in total, up to $3,500 in fines, two-year license revocation and mandatory IID
- Third offense: Mandatory 120 days in jail and up to 11 months and 29 days of incarceration in total, up to $10,000 in fines, six-year license revocation and mandatory IID
- Fourth and fifth offenses: Mandatory 150 days in jail and up to 15 years of incarceration in total, up to $15,000 in fines, eight-year license revocation and mandatory IID; charged as a Class E felony
- Sixth and subsequent offenses: Mandatory 150 days in jail and up to 15 years of incarceration in total, up to $15,000 in fines, eight-year license revocation and mandatory IID; charged as a Class C felony
Keep in mind that these penalties only apply when you are convicted of DUI with no other aggravating factors. You could face additional charges and legal penalties if you are arrested for DUI with minor children in the vehicle or if your vehicle injures or kills someone else as a result of intoxicated driving.
What To Know About Refusing A Chemical Test
Tennessee’s implied consent law requires drivers to submit to chemical tests – which test their breath, blood or urine – when requested by law enforcement who believe someone may be operating a vehicle while under the influence. You have the right to refuse chemical testing, and it may be in your best interest to do so if you know you are intoxicated and suspect you may be above the legal limit. Drivers who refuse to agree to chemical testing will face consequences, but they are typically far less severe than DUI penalties.
In Tennessee, the consequences for refusing chemical testing and violating implied consent laws are as follows:
- First offense: One-year license suspension
- First offense with an accident that causes injury: Two-year license suspension
- Second offense with an accident that causes death: Five-year license suspension
- Second and subsequent offenses: Two-year license suspension
Note that chemical tests are distinct from the standardized field sobriety tests (SFTs), which are not covered under the state’s implied consent laws. You have the right to decline any form of SFT without breaking any law or forfeiting any driving privileges. Officers will likely ask you to submit to a chemical test if you decline, however.
You Likely Have Numerous Defense Options
Clients often come to me thinking they need to plead guilty because they failed a breath test. But while prosecutors would like you to believe your case is open and shut, there may be many opportunities to challenge the charges.
Here are some of the questions I will explore when I investigate your case:
- Did the officer have a valid reason to pull you over?
- If you took field sobriety tests, were they administered correctly, and did the officer reasonably interpret the results?
- Was the Breathalyzer test administered correctly?
- Has the Breathalyzer device been serviced and calibrated recently?
- Were there medical reasons why you may have failed field sobriety tests or chemical tests? Were there medical reasons why you couldn’t take either or both tests?
Sometimes a plea is the best option, but you should never make that decision without first consulting an aggressive defense attorney. Depending on the facts of your case, I may be able to secure an acquittal, reduced charges or a much more favorable plea deal than the one initially offered by prosecutors.
Don’t Wait To Take Legal Action – Contact My Firm Today
Chelsea Nicholson, Attorney at Law, serves clients in Nashville, Tennessee, and surrounding counties. To speak to me about your legal options, contact my office online or call 615-913-3932. The initial consultation is free, and once retained, I accept payment via credit card, Square, Cash App and Venmo.