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Be informed about DUI facts in Tennessee

A DUI conviction can carry serious consequences. The underlying reason for those consequences is to have safer roads. It's important for drivers to be informed about the realities of drinking and driving as well as the potential criminal penalties that can result from a DUI conviction.

Myths about drinking and driving

Many people are under the mistaken assumption that only hard liquor will affect their ability to drive properly or that a DUI offense does not include drinking beverages like wine coolers or beer. Any alcoholic beverage or narcotic substance, including some prescribed medications, that impairs your driving ability can result in a DUI charge. The bottom line is that if you are going out drinking, you should always designate a sober designated driver.

Relevant statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately three in every 10 drivers will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at least once in their lives. Further, MADD Tennessee cites that someone is killed in an alcohol-related accident every 31 minutes in the United States, and that those deaths account for 40 percent of all traffic deaths.

Tennessee DUI and DUI-related laws

In Tennessee, you can have your driver's license suspended for a year or until age 17, depending on which is longer, if you are between the ages of 13 and 17 and it is concluded that you have ingested, had possession of, or sold either drugs or alcohol. Individuals 18-20 years of age who are convicted of buying alcohol will have their license suspended for a year.

For a person of drinking age, a first DUI conviction is a misdemeanor. Penalties can include: fines up to $1,500, possible jail time up to 11 months and 29 days, license suspension for a year, and community service, including removing trash along the highway while dressed in a vest bearing the words "I am a drink driver."

A second offense increases the amount of jail time and fines and introduces the possibility that drivers can lose their vehicles. Second time offenders are also required to install ignition interlock devices, which prevent a car from starting if there is alcohol on the driver's breathe. Additional DUI offenses result in ever increasing penalties up to felony convictions and mandatory license suspension for five years.

If you have been charged with a DUI, it is wise to consult with an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney. A seasoned attorney can review your case to make sure that all relevant laws have been observed and advocate on your behalf within the court system.

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Leonard M. Caputo, P.C.
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801 Broad Street, Suite 520
Chattanooga, TN 37402
Toll Free: 800-783-4240
Fax: 423-266-1547

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