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When does a traffic offense become a felony?

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2022 | Felonies

While traffic violations might seem like a minor offense, they often carry significant penalties. From hefty fines to jail time, a Tennessee driver could face lasting consequences. Unfortunately, certain factors can turn a misdemeanor offense into a felony charge.

Essentially, the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the consequences an individual might face. Felony offenses often require the existence of aggravating factors such as the presence of children, driver impairment or a criminal history. Even though Tennessee relies on the point system for traffic violations, some charges immediately carry devastating consequences, such as:

  • Aggravated DUI: A BAC level of 0.20% or higher, for example, can lead to a charge of aggravated DUI. Additionally, factors such as a motor vehicle collision or a criminal history can quickly turn a DUI charge into an aggravated DUI.
  • Child endangerment DUI: As above, if a motorist is driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle, the consequences can be significant. If the child suffers an injury in a motor vehicle collision, the driver could face a charge of vehicular assault. If the child dies, the offense would be punished as vehicular homicide.
  • Fleeing and eluding an officer: The felony level of evading arrest in Tennessee generally includes the use of a motor vehicle to flee from law enforcement.

No matter the severity of the charge, navigating the criminal justice system alone can be a frustrating, intimidating experience. Individuals might face fines, jail time, community service, mandatory training programs and the loss of driving privileges. It is crucial that you act quickly to defend your rights and your freedom at all costs.