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Tennessee DUI Repeat Offenders Now Face Harsher Penalties

 Posted on July 21,2020 in DUI/DWI/BUI

Knox County criminal defense attorney DUI

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a frighteningly common offense that many Tennesseeans have on their record. Across the country, states have instilled a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit to ensure that drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol are not too intoxicated to drive safely. With a 0.08 percent BAC limit in Tennessee, three to four drinks can place you above the legal limit to drive. In the past few years, Tennessee legislators have noticed a high number of repeat DUI offenders, but there has been a lack of recourse for these repeat offenses. In order to address these sentencing discrepancies, legislators passed House Bill 167 in 2019 after years of legal deliberation.

Looking at Statistics

Legislators included a number of statistics in their HB 167 bill summary, which explains why they believe that these harsher penalties are necessary for repeat offenders with DUI charges. According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, 32.2 percent of all offenders will re-offend within a year of release from their sentence. This appears to be the case for all offenders, not just those with DUI charges. However, the high tendency to re-offend and low chance of harsher sentencing for DUI cases make it likely for those with such charges to drive drunk again in the future. News reports from Fox17 Nashville record the most habitual Tennessee DUI offender had 19 DUI arrests, something that these harsher sentences are hoping to mitigate.

Tennessee HB 167

Very few, if any, DUI offenders received more than a six-year sentence with a 50 percent serving time. With new legislation in place, a driver can now receive up to a 15-year sentence and be required to serve 60 percent of it. Those found to be habitual offenders, with seven or more DUI charges under their belt, can be required to serve this 15-year sentence to its endpoint. The goal of this bill was to create an increased sentence for fifth-time offenders (or more). Now, those found guilty of a fifth DUI offense face a Class D felony charge rather than a Class E felony. This requires guilty parties to serve between two and 12 years in prison and face a $5,000 fine for their actions. For the past year, this new legislation has been handing out stiffer penalties for guilty DUI offenders. This makes it critical to avoid consuming copious amounts of alcohol before driving and to hire a reputable DUI defense attorney if you are facing DUI penalties.

Contact a Knoxville, TN Criminal Defense Lawyer

While all offenses are taken seriously in the eyes of the law, drunk driving is especially significant. Those who get behind the wheel drunk place their own lives at risk as well as other drivers and passengers on the road. Stiffer regulations have been put in place to try to reduce this danger, making it more important than ever to work with an experienced DUI defense lawyer if you are facing these serious charges. Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney, provides dedicated and aggressive representation to all of his clients. He is skilled at formulating a dynamic defense strategy and executing it in court. For help with your criminal case, call our diligent Knox County DUI defense attorney today at 865-281-1000 to schedule your free consultation.


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