What to Expect for a First-Offense DUI in Tennessee?
Being arrested for a first DUI offense can be daunting, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with the legal process. Tennessee courts impose strict punishments on those who drive while impaired, and DUI offenses are classified according to the circumstances of the arrest, prior offenses, and other factors.
However, even a first DUI charge can result in heavy fines, required educational courses, and even a prison sentence. Being aware of these laws and having guidance from a Tennessee DUI attorney is important for anyone dealing with these potential penalties
For a first-offense DUI conviction, which is a Class A misdemeanor charge in Tennessee, you face the following penalties:
- Jail time of 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days
- At least seven days of jail time if your BAC is .20 or higher when you were arrested
- One-year license revocation (you may apply for a restricted license, depending on your situation)
- Complete a drug or alcohol treatment program
- A fine of $350 up to $1,000
- Pay restitution to anyone who suffered injuries or property damage due to the DUI incident
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
Depending on the circumstances, the weight of a DUI charge can be lessened to a minor offense such as a traffic violation or reckless driving. But this is subject to various factors. These include legal issues your Tennessee DUI attorney can raise in court, the weakness or strength of the prosecution’s evidence against you, and whether your actions show accountability and acknowledgment of your substance abuse problem, among many others. A successful attempt at lessening the offense can help you avoid incarceration and other consequences.
You can’t expunge a DUI from your criminal record. However, even if a conviction for DUI cannot be erased from your record according to the current law, a reckless driving charge can be expunged five years past your completion of the six-month probationary period. Also, certain criminal charges, including reckless driving, are eligible for judicial diversion.
Judicial diversion is a form of probation for first-time, non-violent offenders. It enables the charges against the offender to be diverted for a predetermined period as soon as the defendant confesses their guilt and agrees to the judge’s given conditions. The defendant’s sentence is not executed if they can accomplish their probationary period successfully. Take note, however, that offenders who have been convicted of a Class A misdemeanor or a felony are not eligible for judicial diversion.
It’s also crucial to note that any violation of the judicial diversion requirements will result in the court issuing a warrant for your immediate arrest. It will also likely revoke your diversion, convict you of the original offense, increase your probation requirements, and add more jail time.
Our Tennessee DUI attorney, Joshua T. Crain, understands the seriousness of facing a DUI charge and its potential consequences. Find out how we can fight for your freedom by scheduling a case evaluation with our Tennessee DUI attorney online or by phone at 615-848-2088.