Tennessee has some of the strictest DUI laws in the United States. In this state, it is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle on any public roads, as well as some other public areas if you are under the influence of an intoxicating substance.
If you are arrested on DUI charges in Nashville, Tennessee, you shouldn’t take it lightly. You should hire a criminal defense attorney who will work with you to provide you with the best defense during this frightening and possibly embarrassing time.
If you have been charged with DUI in Nashville, we encourage you to act quickly and give our trusted Nashville DUI defense lawyers at Nash Law a call today at 615-544-6096 or fill out the online form provided to request a consultation.
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What Is the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Limit in Tennessee?
Tennessee has a BAC level at which it is presumed that a person driving a motor vehicle is drunk. It is referred to as the “per se” BAC, which is set at .08 in the state. Furthermore, having an extremely high BAC of .20 or above may result in enhanced penalties in Tennessee.
Tennessee has a “zero tolerance” policy for individuals under the legal drinking age of 21. If a person below 21 years of age has a BAC of .02 while driving, even if he/she isn’t drunk, then he/she can be found to have committed a DUI.
What Penalties Can I Face for a DUI in Tennessee?
Tennessee cracks down hard on DUI charges. The penalties will differ depending on the number of DUI convictions, if any, that you have had before. In Tennessee law, “before” refers to the 10-year period immediately preceding the alleged incident for which you are being charged. It is referred to as the “lookback period” which is one of the longest in the USA.
If it is your first time being convicted of a DUI in Tennessee, you face a jail term of at least 2 days, but it can be up to 11 months. You also face mandatory fines that range anywhere from $350 to $1,500 depending on the severity of the offense.
Your license will also be revoked for 1 year and will subsequently be required to drive with an ignition interlock device that you will have to pay for. Installation can be up to $100 while the monthly lease on the device typically falls between $50 and $100.
Things start to escalate on a second or third conviction. While a second and third DUI is still a misdemeanor, the mandatory jail term increases to 45 days, and then 120 days, with the maximum being 1 year. Possible fines range from a minimum of $600 after a second conviction, to a maximum of $10,000 after a third conviction and your license will be suspended for up to 10 years.
You face a minimum of 150 days in jail following a fourth conviction with the maximum term being up to 6 years. Fines range from $3,000 to $15,000 and your license will be suspended for at least 5 years and possibly indefinitely. The court is also likely to impose strict conditions attached to the reinstatement of the license and even then, you will still have to contend with the ignition interlock device.
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Tennessee?
It is worth noting that part of the Tennessee driver’s license application is an agreement to abide by the state’s Implied Consent Law. The Implied Consent Law in Tennessee states that by receiving a driver’s license in the state, you have agreed to consent to breathalyzer and chemical testing when requested by a law enforcement official.
If you refuse to submit to a chemical test or blood alcohol test when requested by a police officer, you risk having your driver’s license revoked for 1 year for a first offense, 2 years for a second offense and 2 years if the accident resulted in bodily injury, even if it is a first offense. If you refuse a breathalyzer test and the accident resulted in someone’s death, your license may be revoked for 5 years.
A law enforcement officer that requests a driver of a motor vehicle to submit to such a test is required to advise the driver that refusal to submit to the test will result in the suspension of their driver’s license and that the person can be charged with an implied consent violation.
What Is a Felony DUI in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, a felony DUI refers to the punishment imposed upon a repeat violator of the crime of driving under the influence – specifically, a person that’s on their fourth or more DUI conviction. The law in this state imposes harsher penalties on those that continually violate the law than first-time offenders.
In Tennessee, a DUI is considered a felony if it fits the following criteria:
It Is Your Fourth DUI
Under Tennessee laws, a fourth or subsequent DUI is a Class E felony. It carries hefty penalties, which include a jail term of 1 year with a minimum of 150 consecutive days served and a fine of up to $15,000. Furthermore, your license may be revoked for up to 8 years and you may be required to install an ignition interlock device.
You Injured or Killed a Child Passenger Below the Age of 13
If you are arrested for a DUI with a passenger under 13 years of age, you may be charged with child endangerment, which is a felony if the child suffers a serious injury or is killed. The charge carries a jail term of 2 to 12 years for an injured child and 8 to 30 years for a child that’s killed.
You Caused the Death of Another Individual
It is also referred to as vehicular homicide, which is a Class B felony. You can be charged with vehicular homicide in Tennessee if you cause a fatal crash while driving with a BAC of .08 or more. Your driver’s license will be revoked for a period of between 3 and 10 years.
You Caused Serious Injury in an Accident
It is also known as vehicular assault, which results when an individual driving under the influence causes serious injury to another individual and it is a felony in Tennessee. Depending on how many prior DUIs you have had in the past, your driver’s license may be revoked for a period of between 1 and 5 years.
Aggravated Vehicular Assault while Driving Intoxicated
It is a felony in Tennessee. It is appropriate for drivers with 2 or more prior vehicular assault convictions or DUI convictions or any combination of the 2. It is also appropriate if the driver has a previous vehicular homicide conviction. It may also be appropriate if you had a BAC of .20 or greater and have a prior DUI or vehicular assault conviction.
Common Defenses in DUI Cases
The experienced Nashville DUI defense lawyers at Nash Law can help you navigate a variety of defenses against a DUI. Here are the most common defenses that our lawyers regularly use in DUI cases:
Lack of Probable Cause for Stop
A police DUI stop has to be supported by reasonable suspicion or probable cause for it to be valid. If the police officer doesn’t have probable cause for your stop or reasonable suspicion, our Nashville DUI defense lawyers will file a motion to suppress evidence thus excluding any evidence obtained by an unlawful stop and search. Suppressing key evidence can significantly increase the chances of getting your DUI dismissed.
Challenging Accuracy of Tests
The other common defense that our lawyers at Nash Law typically deploy is questioning the validity of any tests conducted upon your stop and arrest. If the tests yielded inaccurate results, it is actually possible to completely avoid a conviction. Here are some of the tests whose validity our legal team may question:
Field Sobriety Tests
Even sober, healthy adults can fail standing and walking tests 30 percent of the time. Medical issues, being older, and being overweight are all possible reasons why someone may fail the test.
Such tests are inaccurate and the vast majority of experts agree that they are unreliable on their own. If a breath test operator is unlicensed or has an expired license, then the test results are inadmissible.
Invalid Field Sobriety Tests
Certain tests are recognized as field sobriety tests such as saying the alphabet, counting backward, and finger touching the nose. However, one thing that you might not know is that all these are not always considered valid tests.
If the breathalyzer machine is malfunctioning, improperly calibrated, not calibrated or not approved, then any results it outputs are inadmissible. If the person that administered the test didn’t include the simulator solution used then the results are inadmissible.
The prosecution is required to prove that your blood alcohol content at the time you were driving was above the legal limit. The time of alcohol consumption and time of testing are both factors that can affect your blood alcohol level.
How Can a Nashville DUI Defense Lawyer Help me?
If you have been caught driving under the influence in Nashville, you should consider hiring a DUI defense lawyer to guide you through the process and try minimizing the consequences upon yourself. The lawyer will advise you as you progress with the case and help ensure that your defense is the strongest it can be. Here are the specific ways the DUI defense lawyer can help:]
Getting an Opinion
If you have been charged with a DUI in Nashville, Tennessee, you need to consult a trusted DUI defense lawyer such as those at Nash Law for a legal opinion about the case. Our lawyers will have an objective opinion about the case and will provide a new perspective. Contact us today via phone at 615-544-6096 or using the contact form provided for the best legal advice in your DUI case.
Our experienced DUI defense lawyers will examine and analyze the specific evidence related to your case trying to find mistakes. We will then ask questions such as: Did the police follow the proper procedures? Are the facts being presented accurate? We may also defend you by focusing on your good record and demonstrating that the charges against you go against your overall good character.
Negotiating on Your Behalf
Prior to trial, the prosecution will probably be hoping to get a guilty plea from you and may try pressuring you into cutting a deal. It can be difficult to negotiate with a prosecutor, especially with the harsh penalties associated with a DUI hanging over your head. Fortunately, the DUI defense lawyers at Nash Law can handle the negotiations on your behalf.
If you have been convicted of a DUI, we might not be successful in helping get your conviction expunged, but we can definitely help to lessen the charge. This could be incredibly beneficial to you since it means that your conviction will probably not affect your credit or employment.
Contact Nash Law for a Free Legal Consultation
If you are facing DUI charges in Nashville, it is important to have knowledgeable lawyers by your side. The Nashville DUI defense lawyers at Nash Law have many years of experience and ample success in helping clients get their DUI charges reduced or perhaps even dismissed.
The possible penalties of a DUI are severe and you need to partner with the right lawyers who will fight for your rights. Our skilled DUI defense lawyers are simply the best and will be of great help to you.
Contact our law firm today either online using the contact form provided or by calling 615-544-6096 to schedule your free case evaluation and discuss your case with one of our experienced lawyers.