Newly-hired Vanderbilt coach benched following DUI conviction

Earlier this year, Vanderbilt University announced its hiring of a new assistant football coach. That new coaching position for Vavae Tata didn’t last long. He has a DUI arrest to credit for at least the temporary loss of his coaching job.

On Feb. 16, Tata was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident. He pleaded guilty to the Tennessee criminal charges and now is facing the realities of what his plea and conviction mean for his life. Consequences of a drunk driving conviction go beyond jail time.

Tata hasn’t spoken about his DUI case to the media. His criminal defense attorney has spoken on his behalf. Even without Tata seeking the spotlight, his arrest and case overall have attracted significant coverage in Tennessee. Defendants with notable roles in the community, such as a university football coach, can experience the hardships of a drunk driving arrest in more ways than other people.

Still, the defendant’s job didn’t save him from conviction and sentencing. He was sentenced to a nearly 12-month jail term, 48 hours of which he will actually serve. The rest of that time he will be on probation. The terms of his plea are that he go through alcohol counseling and perform community service. Beyond that, his driver’s license has been suspended for a year.

There are multiple collateral consequences of a DUI in Tennessee. As Tata’s case proves, one of those can be employment opportunities. Someone who is charged with drunk driving should discuss their case with a DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible in order to try to mitigate the potential collateral consequences.

Source: The Tennessean, “Vanderbilt assistant won’t coach in 2014 after pleading guilty to DUI,” Jeff Lockridge and Brian Haas, March 5, 2014

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