If you made a mistake and got behind the wheel of your car after drinking, you may face charges for drunk driving. A conviction could jeopardize job opportunities, college admission and college scholarships. Of course, you could also face criminal penalties.
Here in Tennessee, a breath test indicating a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher could land you in jail on suspicion of driving under the influence. A DUI conviction comes with numerous penalties that depend on how many prior convictions you have for this offense. Those penalties can increase if your BAC is .20 or higher. Laws regarding underage drinkers differ, but the information on potential penalties given below focuses on individuals age 21 or older.
If convicted of a first-offense DUI, you could face a mandatory minimum of two to seven days in jail to a maximum of 11 months and 29 days. Fines could range between $350 and $1,500. You could also lose your license for up to one year, and a judge may obligate you to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program. The court may order you to use an ignition interlock device as well.
A prior conviction for DUI could cause you to face a minimum of 45 days in jail. Fines could range between $600 and $3,500. You could lose your license for up to two years. When you do get your license back, the court could restrict your driving to going to court-ordered alcohol treatment programs, school and work. In the alternative, the court may require you to use an ignition interlock device. A second DUI conviction also allows for the confiscation of your vehicle.
Third offense and beyond
Two or more convictions for DUI could land you in jail for 120 days -- minimum. The fines increase to between $1,100 and $10,000. You could lose your license anywhere between six and 10 years, and you wouldn't have the opportunity to obtain a restricted license. Any additional DUI convictions require a minimum of 365 days of incarceration. Fines go up once again to between $3,000 and $15,000. You could also lose your license for eight years without the possibility of obtaining a restricted license.
Those penalties are just a starting point
The penalties outlined above represent a starting point for a DUI conviction. Other factors such as accidents could mean an increase in penalties. If you injured someone in an alcohol-related crash, you could face charges for vehicular assault. If someone died, that charge may upgrade to vehicular homicide.
As you can see, you face harsh penalties if convicted of DUI here in Tennessee. It may be a good idea to challenge the charges against you. You retain the presumption of innocence unless proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the option to confront any witnesses against you (this includes the officer that arrested you) and the right to challenge any evidence the prosecution intends to present to the court. You may also exercise your right to legal counsel to help you achieve the best outcome possible to the charges.