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What to do if you're arrested for DUI after an accident

There's good news and bad news in Tennessee when it comes to drunk-driving crashes. According to the Tennessee Highway Safety office, there have been fewer such crashes this year (5,171) than this time last year (5,327). And, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, there have been fewer DUI arrests over the past few years, even with a growing population.

Unfortunately, there have been more deaths attributed to drunk driving. So far this year, there have been 198 deaths blamed on drunk drivers, compared to 182 last year.

The penalties are serious if someone is injured or killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver. The driver could be charged with vehicular assault, vehicular homicide or, in some cases, aggravated vehicular assault while driving intoxicated:

Vehicular assault - Class D felony

This charge is brought when a drunk driver is accused of seriously injuring another person. Depending on whether there were prior DUI or related offenses, they could lose their license for 1 to 5 years. No restricted driver's license is available during that revocation. They also face 2 to 12 years of jail time with mandatory minimums, along with a fine of up to $5,000.

Vehicular homicide - Class B felony

If you had a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or greater and caused a crash in which someone was killed, you could be charged with vehicular homicide. If convicted, you face 8 to 30 years in prison, with mandatory minimums. You could also be fined up to $25,000. Your license would be revoked for 3 to 10 years, with no restricted license available.

Aggravated vehicular assault/homicide - Class A felony

This charge is also brought against someone who is accused of driving drunk and getting into an accident that injured or killed someone after having two or more prior DUI or vehicular assault, convictions or one prior vehicular homicide conviction. Or, you can be charged if your blood alcohol was greater than 0.20% or higher and you have a prior DUI or vehicular assault conviction.

A conviction carries a penalty of 15 to 60 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000. You would also lose your license and have no access to a restricted license.

What should I do?

Don't panic; it won't help. Yes, you're facing very serious charges, but there is hope if you take action right away. Depending on your circumstances, it may be possible to have you charged with a lesser offense. If your rights were violated during the arrest, you may have additional options. It is crucial to contact an experienced defense attorney if you are accused of injuring or killing someone while under the influence.

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