Longer prison times for repeat DUIs start in 2017

As of January 1, 2017, people convicted of a sixth or subsequent DUI conviction in Tennessee may face tougher sentences.

It is not uncommon for the beginning of a new calendar year to see the enactment of new laws take place. This is normal for Tennessee as well as other states. However, these new laws are not always highly broadcast or publicized and that can leave citizens somewhat caught off guard. Learning about these changes at inopportune times such as after a criminal arrest does not ever feel good to defendants.

Anyone who has ever been convicted of a drunk driving offense in Tennessee will want to take note of a new law that may affect them if they are ever convicted of future offenses.

Felony classification and incarceration time changes

Previous laws in Tennessee classified any fourth or subsequent driving under the influence conviction as a Class E felony. Now, such a charge may be bumped up to a Class D felony in certain situations.

A person charged with a sixth DUI offense may be at risk of a Class C felony conviction. a minimum incarceration time of 150 consecutive days is required. Maximum incarceration bumps up to 3-15 years depending on your criminal record.

Unknown effect on other penalties

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security indicates that a Class E felony DUI conviction carries with it consequences in addition to incarceration. These include an eight-year revocation of a driver's license and the payment of up to $15,000 in fines. Minimum fines for this offense start at $3,000. Also, even with a 12-month prison sentence, at least 150 of those days must be served in consecutive order.

State tough on all DUI offenses

Even a first-time DUI conviction can send a person to jail for nearly a full year with 48 hours of jail time being the mandatory minimum. The fine for a first DUI can be as high as $1,500 and does not include other costs such as for an ignition interlock device or required substance abuse and addiction treatment if ordered.

Professional defense help is important

With the strict penalties associated with a DUI in Tennessee, drivers arrested on these charges should always reach out to an attorney for help. This will give people the ability to fully understand the often changing laws and help them make proper decisions about the defense process.