Tennessee DUI Penalties

Tennessee DUI Penalties: Introduction

Tennessee DUI Penalties are very complex.  The severity of the punishment depends on the number of the offense.  Each numbered offense has a completely different set of penalties.  The Tennessee Department of Safety website keeps a comprehensive list of the various DUI penalties in the State of Tennessee.

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DUI First Offense

If you are charged with a first offense, then it is likely you have no idea what to expect.  You have been arrested and given a court date.  Other than that, unless you are familiar with DUI laws, you cannot possibly imagine the complexities involved with defending a DUI charge.  You have seen the endless marketing campaigns from the Governor's Highway Safety Office.  You have seen the special interest groups spend millions of dollars on advertising to curtail the number of DUI arrests.  This type of attention leads to aggressive prosecution.  Therefore, when you go to plea bargain with the district attorney, it is almost a certainty that their first offer will be nothing less than to plea as charged. 

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DUI Second Offense

If you are charged with a second offense, then you are a bit more familiar with the court system and have an idea of what to expect.  You are a bit more familiar with the DUI laws and the complexities involved.  However, a second offense draws more attention to the case, which greatly decreases the likelihood of having the charge reduced.  Therefore, an offer to plea as charged is even more likely on a second offense. 

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DUI Third Offense

If you are unfortunate enough to be charged with a third offense, then you probably know exactly what to expect.  At this point, you have been given a notice of enhancement by the court on at least two occasions.  Also, from the State's perspective, you have been given ample opportunity to remedy any drinking problem that you may or may not have.  Therefore, it is almost an absolute certainty that you are facing significant jail time. 

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Felony DUI

If this is your fourth offense, then you are facing prison.  A DUI fourth offense is an "E" felony punishable by up to six years in prison.  The fine could be up to $15,000.  The prosecutor only wants to punish you.  From their perspective, you have refused to address any sort of drinking issue.  Therefore, their only recourse is punishment.  That punishment will cost you everything. 

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