Aggressive DUI Attorney in Knoxville, TN
DUI Charges in Tennessee
Tennessee has some of the harshest DUI penalties in the nation. Even first-time offenders risk possible jail time with a permanent criminal record upon conviction and loss of driver’s license for at least one year. With your freedom and future at stake, it is vital that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney when facing DUI charges. It could make the difference between a reduced plea, dropped charges, or devastating jail time.
Tennessee’s DUI Laws
The Tennessee Code Annotated defines intoxicated driving offenses and their penalties under the law. To understand the charges filed against you it is wise to have a clear understanding of the rules you allegedly violated and possible criminal sentencing.
BAC Limit and Stricter Standard
To be charged with DUI, law enforcement officers must allege that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. One way of proving this is if the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit. In Tennessee, it is illegal to drive with a BAC level of 0.08% or higher.
While some states have a true “Zero Tolerance Policy,” making it illegal for driver’s under 21 to have any alcohol in their systems, drivers under the age of 21 in Tennessee are subject to the state’s stricter standard, which drops the BAC limit from .08% to 0.02%. Due to the nature of breathalyzers, the evidence in these cases is susceptible. Various factors, such as what you ate before blowing into a breathalyzer, could cause inaccurate BAC readings. For this reason and many others, it would be wise to hire a competent attorney when facing an underage DUI charge.
Tennessee follows the Implied Consent principle, which gives officers the authority to administer chemical testing in situations where they have arrested an allegedly intoxicated driver. This law states that drivers implicitly consent to chemical testing of the breath and may be asked to consent to a blood test when they get behind the wheel of a car. Refusal to comply with chemical testing automatically results in a revoked license for one year for first-time offenders.
Additional DUI Related Offenses
Additional DUI related offenses are available and could be added depending on the circumstances of your arrest. In Tennessee, the most common other charges include child endangerment, felony reckless endangerment, vehicular assault, and vehicular homicide.
Vehicular assault covers instances where another person was severely injured on the road as a result of your DUI. This crime is a class D felony punishable by a minimum of two years in jail and a maximum 12-year sentence.
Meanwhile, if you got into an accident and an innocent person died as a result of your impaired driving, you could be charged with vehicular homicide, which is a class B felony. Vehicular homicide has a minimum jail sentence of eight years upon conviction. This charge could be bumped up to aggravated vehicular homicide if 1) you had multiple past DUI convictions or 2) you were arrested with a BAC level of 0.20% or higher and have various DUI offenses on your record. If the prosecutor pushes for the maximum penalty, you risk being convicted with a Class A felony punishable by 15-30 years in jail.
Lastly, law enforcement may add child endangerment charges if a minor was present in the car at the time of your DUI arrest. If a child ages 18 or younger was in the car while you were drunk driving, this is an offense that faces a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and $1,000 criminal fine for first-time offenders. In these cases, a prosecutor may pursue maximum penalties if they believe the child’s life was in danger.
If the child suffered severe bodily injury, the crime is a class D felony, and a class B felony if the child died. The penalties associated with each crime depends on the circumstances of the incident and the driver’s past criminal record.
DUI Charges v. DUI Conviction
A DUI charge is not the same thing as a DUI conviction. If you have been pulled over and arrested for intoxicated driving, you are facing DUI charges. However, you have yet to be found guilty in the court of law. It is the prosecutor’s burden to find enough evidence to convict you of allegedly violating the state’s drunk driving laws. If they fail to do so, you have won your case, and the charges have to be dismissed. Hiring an experienced attorney can help you avoid a nasty conviction and its associated penalties.
Consequences of a DUI Conviction
A DUI conviction can have harmful effects that can negatively impact your life long after your debt to society has been paid. If convicted, your case faces not only devastating criminal and administrative penalties but also a permanent criminal record.
Court- Related Consequences
First, second, and third-time offenses are considered misdemeanors under Tennessee DUI Law. All offenses face a maximum jail sentence of 11 months and 29 days and license revocation. However, the minimum jail time and criminal fines are determined by the number of offenses you have committed.
First-time offenders risk a minimum jail sentence of 48 hours and a criminal fine of $350-$1,500. The second offense is punishable by at least 45 days in jail and $600-$3,500 in fees. The third time you are charged with a DUI, you face a minimum jail sentence of 120 days and fines of $1,100-$10,000.
Also, your vehicle is subject to confiscation starting at your second DUI.
Fourth time and subsequent offenders face conviction of a Class E felony. These crimes carry a potential minimum one-year jail sentence, with 150 days to be served consecutively. Offenders also face a mandatory criminal fine of $3,000-$15,000, a license revocation of eight years, and vehicle seizure.
Non-Court Related Consequences
Even long after your jail sentence has been served and your criminal fines are paid, the stigma of a criminal record can have severe economic, professional, and restrictive consequences.
For many people, the most significant consequence of having a tainted criminal history is the inability to be hired or promoted. Employers look down on any criminal conviction, and this is especially true for DUI charges. When it comes down to it, future employers are more likely to choose a qualified job candidate with a clear record than someone just as qualified with a DUI conviction. It just looks bad, and employers know this.
A criminal record could also cancel out the possibility of acquiring a professional license you worked so hard for, or prevent you from getting into educational programs altogether. Moreover, the restrictive penalties of a criminal record could also prevent you from legally obtaining a firearm license or leaving the country.
In short, the stakes for a DUI conviction are high. Being convicted of even a misdemeanor DUI could negatively alter your life. Take a significant step in protecting your rights and freedom by contacting an experienced DUI defense attorney today. Collver Law aggressively fights your case to the very end.
Expungement of DUI Convictions
In Tennessee, it is impossible to have a DUI conviction expunged from your criminal record.
Expungement is the court-ordered process of erasing charges and convictions off of an individual’s criminal record as if they never happened. An expunged record is not open to the public, which means past criminal activity won’t show up on background checks, but that simply doesn’t occur with Tennessee DUI cases.
In Tennessee, the only DUI convictions that qualify for expungement are cases in which the charges were dismissed, you were found not guilty, or there was a reduction to a non-DUI offense.
Considerations Regarding Underage DUI Cases
As previously mentioned, minors are subject to a stricter standard than adults. Juveniles who drive with any amount of alcohol in their system could face conviction of an underage DWI.
Luckily the state allows minors to seal their criminal records. Unless explicitly excluded by the Tennessee legislature, underage DWIs may be sealed if the applicant is at least 18 years old, one year has passed since the minor’s last judicial adjudication, the applicant was not convicted of any additional crimes, and all of their criminal sentencing has been served.
DUI Defenses in Knoxville, TN
By now you probably understand that the possible penalties of a DUI conviction are grave. However, it is possible to avoid conviction or achieve reduced charges with the help of a competent criminal defense attorney. At Collver Law , Jason Collver has years of experience helping clients obtain the best possible result for their cases. Mr. Collver will handle all evidence and circumstances of your arrest to build your case a robust DUI defense.
Possible DUI Defenses
Some of the many DUI defenses are attorneys have successfully used involve pointing out problems with the prosecutor’s evidence or keeping it out of court. For instance, if the arresting officer pulled you over without probable cause all evidence they collected would be withheld in court. For law enforcement to pull you over, they must have a viable reason to do so. If they arrest you without probable cause, your constitutional rights were violated and any evidence they collected becomes fruits of the poison tree, meaning that it isn’t admissible.
Other defenses available include challenging the accuracy of breathalyzers and chemical testing. Breathalyzers are notorious for skewed results. A significant problem associated with breathalyzers is that they cannot differentiate between the alcohol found in everyday foods/products and the alcohol in alcoholic beverages. For instance, if you chew gum or consume mouthwash immediately before participating in a breath test, it can affect your BAC results. Moreover, if the evidence of a chemical test is mishandled or the protocol is violated, the results could be found faulty and the evidence thrown out.
These are a few of the many DUI defenses available. Depending on the circumstances of your case, our trusted attorneys will work with you to build a strong defense against your DUI charges.
Collver Law Practices DUI Defense in Knoxville, TN
If you are facing DUI charges in Knoxville, Tennessee, it is imperative that you contact Collver Law for aggressive legal representation. Mr. Collver understands the law and how to make a courtroom work to the advantage of our client. With years of experience, our legal team has the knowledge and tenacity to fight your case to the very end. Mr. Collver dedicates himself to helping clients protect their rights and freedom, and want to do the same for you.