Posts Tagged Other Consequences of DUI

How Do I Reinstate My Tennessee Driving Privileges?

Tennessee residents who have had their driving privileges revoked or suspended because of a Driving Under the Influence conviction (or because of other traffic issues) often want to know the steps required to reinstate their Tennessee driving privileges. There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer, however, because the requirements are unique for each individual and depend on the circumstances of the revocation or suspension.

Fortunately, the State of Tennessee has made it quite easy to answer this question. By visiting the following website and entering certain key information (last name, date of birth, Tennessee driver license/I.D. number, and Social Security Number), Tennessee residents may discover the individual requirements that they need to satisfy before the Department of Safety will reinstate their driver license. This website allows individuals to not only discover the reinstatement requirements if their driving privileges have been revoked, but one may also add an emergency contact to their license, order a duplicate license, document a change of address, or even obtain a driving history.

The Oberman & Rice law firm often deals with issues involving Tennessee driver licenses, often relating to Tennessee DUI offenses or other traffic issues.  Should you have any legal issues regarding your Tennessee driver license, our attorneys, Steve, Sara, and A.Z. are available to speak with you and can be reached by calling (865) 249-7200.

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Increased Jail Time for Some DUI Offenders in Tennessee

Beginning in July 2016, drunk drivers who have prior DUI convictions will face more severe penalties.[1] The Tennessee General Assembly has enacted a new law that amends Tennessee Code Annotated §55-10-402 and enhances the way Tennessee punishes offenders with multiple DUI convictions. These changes will apply only to those who commit an offense on or after July 1, 2016.

Previously, a conviction for a 4th offense or higher DUI was a Class E Felony. A Class E Felony carries a punishment of 1-6 years.[2] Starting on July 1, while a 4th or 5th offense conviction for DUI will remain a Class E Felony, a person who commits a 6th or subsequent offense will be sentenced as a Class C Felon. A Class C Felony is punishable by 3-15 years in the penitentiary.[3]

Although the mandatory minimum jail sentence for DUI offenders who have six or more convictions will not change, the maximum sentence increases significantly. People who are convicted of a 4th or subsequent offense must serve a mandatory minimum of 150 days in jail. However, based on statistics from 2015 in Tennessee, Class E Felons serve an average of 1.56 years in jail, while Class C Felons serve an average of 4.13 years in jail.[4] This change to the law should significantly increase the amount of incarceration for those who have six or more convictions for DUI.

About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants.  Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee.  Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD.

He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 7th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen).  Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions.  He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries.

The author would like to thank his associate attorney, Anna Rickels, for her research and contributions to this article.

If you would like to contact the author, please visit: http://www.tndui.com

[1] http://share.tn.gov/sos/acts/109/pub/pc0876.pdf

[2] Tennessee Code Annotated §40-35-111(b)(5)

[3] Tennessee Code Annotated §40-35-111(b)(3)

[4] Sentencing Practices in Tennessee (April 2015) http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/docs/criminal_sentencing_stats_cy2014_draft_v2.pdf

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Will I be able to rent a car after a DUI conviction?

Many people are unaware of the many collateral consequences of a DUI conviction.  One generally understood consequence of a conviction for Driving Under the Influence, First Offense, in Tennessee is the loss of a driver license for one year.  Even though a restricted driver license may be obtained for many people convicted of a DUI, First Offense, a restricted driver license will typically not suffice to rent a motor vehicle.  Most, if not all, national rental agencies require a renter to provide a valid driver license.  Therefore, the possibility of renting a car will not be an option for at least a year after a conviction for Driving Under the Influence in Tennessee.

Even after the Tennessee driver license reinstatement of someone convicted of DUI, the ability to rent a car may be limited due to insurance concerns.  Individual rental companies may respond differently to a prior DUI conviction.  Therefore, the best course of action would be to contact a sales representative before a rental car is reserved online and relied upon for transportation.  Higher rates, travel restrictions, and special insurance may be required to rent a vehicle, so it makes sense to shop around and compare policies and rates.

Please click here for additional information about the collateral consequences (other consequences) of a DUI conviction.  An experienced Tennessee Defense Lawyer should be consulted about all of the possible consequences of a Driving Under the Influence conviction.  Steve and Sara are available to answer questions about the consequences of a Tennessee DUI and may be reached by calling 865-249-7200.

 

 

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DUI Vehicle Forfeiture: What you should know if you receive a “Notice of Seizure”

The Tennessee Department of Safety, through law enforcement officers, may seize the vehicle of anyone suspected of multiple DUIs.  A vehicle may also be seized from anyone found to be driving on a revoked, cancelled, or suspended license if the reason for the revoked, cancelled, or suspended license was a DUI conviction.  In other words, a person convicted of a DUI risks vehicle seizure if he or she is found to be driving without a valid license or is suspected of DUI, regardless of whether there is a conviction.

When a citizen’s property is seized, the government, which is typically be represented by the Tennessee Department of Safety in cases involving vehicle and asset forfeiture, must follow the rules.  Multiple state laws, court cases, and administrative rules govern the forfeiture process.  Furthermore,  constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures and against excessive fines may apply to forfeiture proceedings just as they do criminal proceedings.

The Department of Safety rules and regulations are complicated and often intimidating.  Nevertheless, failure to take action within strict time limits may result in the loss of property rights.  If you or someone you know has had property seized by law enforcement, it is important to contact a Tennessee criminal attorney immediately.  You may contact Steve and Sara by calling (865) 249-7200.  You may also wish to review our website for additional information about forfeitures.

[Source: T.C.A. Section 55-10-401 et seq., Williams v. State Dept. of Safety, 854 S.W.2d 102 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1993), Stuart v. State Dept. of Safety, 963 S.W.2d 28 (Tenn. 1998)]

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What if a person accidentally misses a court date for a Tennessee DUI?

Court dates should always be a defendant’s highest priority, aside from urgent family emergencies.  If a person expects to miss a court date or has missed a court date in the past, he should contact his attorney as soon as possible.

When a person misses a court date, the court may issue a warrant for that person’s arrest or may charge that person with “Failure to Appear” in court, a separate, Class A Misdemeanor.  The effect of a missed court date will vary in each case depending on the presiding judge, the facts of the case, the amount of advance notice provided to the court, and the practices of the local county.

If a good reason exists as to why a person will miss a court date, a judge may show leniency.  In this type of situation, an experienced Tennessee Criminal Defense lawyer will work to avoid an arrest or incarceration for his or her client.  If you missed your court date and do not have a Tennessee Criminal Defense lawyer working for you, contact one immediately.

If you have questions about your Tennessee DUI or other criminal charge, our lawyers are available to assist you.  Sara, Steve, or Nate will be happy to speak with you at (865) 249-7200.  You may also review our websites at www.tndui.com, www.duiknoxville.com and www.tncriminaldefense.com.

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Expungement of a Tennessee DUI

Can a Tennessee DUI conviction be expunged from my criminal record?

If you are convicted of a Tennessee DUI offense, the conviction cannot be erased from your criminal record. Only a dismissed charge may be expunged. Any conviction in Tennessee remains on a person’s criminal record forever unless a pardon is issued by the governor after a careful review by the Board of Probation and Parole.

Accordingly, if a person pleads guilty to a DUI in Tennessee, that person will not be eligible to have the charge dismissed or expunged.  However, a person charged with a DUI may not need to plead guilty to a DUI.  This is one reason why it is important to have an experienced Tennessee DUI attorney review your case before entering into any plea agreement that results in a criminal conviction.

[Sources: Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-403; § 40-35-313; § 40-27-102]

 


 

 

 

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The Overlooked Costs of a Tennessee DUI Charge

Most people do not recognize the varied costs associated with a DUI charge.  Although the exact cost is difficult to determine without knowing the facts of your case, the costs you may encounter (excluding attorney fees) include, but are not limited to:

  • Investigation expenses (scene photos, witness interviews, etc.)
  • Police communication tapes (911) and transcription
  • Police videotapes and transcription
  • Field sobriety test expert fees
  • Chemical test (blood, breath or urine) expert fees
  • Technology fees (e.g. to play the police video in court)
  • Fees/court costs associated with conviction (e.g. $40.00 ignition interlock fee for all DUI convictions; $250.00 chemical test fee; $100.00 assessment etc.)
  • Mandatory minimum fines ($350 for a DUI 1st Offense; $600.00 for a DUI 2nd Offense; $1,100.00 for a DUI 3rd Offense; and $3,000.00 for a DUI 4th or subsequent Offense)
  • Increased insurance premiums for a minimum of 3 to 5 years
  • Lost income from lost job opportunities
  • Costs related to probation (litter pick-up fees; probation fees; DUI school; Ignition interlock device; SCRAM device; alcohol treatment)
  • Driver’s license reinstatement fees
  • Costs associated for alternative transportation if you are not permitted a restricted driver’s license

As you can see, depending upon the facts of your case and whether you are ultimately convicted of DUI, a DUI arrest can be quite costly.

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No Recovery for DUI Accident Injury

New Jersey has taken the collateral consequences of a drunk driving conviction to a new level.  Consider, for a moment, that you were legally stopped at a red light when you were rear-ended by a negligent driver.  Upon investigation, the officer determines that you are under the influence.  You are subsequently arrested and ultimately convicted.  Although you were injured in the accident, which was clearly not your fault, a New Jersey statute bars recovery, regardless of liability, for any loss suffered “in connection with” an accident where the claimant has been convicted of DUI. This statute, N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5(b), bars recovery not only of economic, but also non-economic loss sustained as a result of the accident.

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Does a “designated driver” owe a legal duty to aid or protect intoxicated passengers?

This question came before the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2008.  In this case, Downs ex rel. Downs v. Bush, 263 S.W.3d 812 (Tenn. 2008), the mother of a Ryan Downs, a passenger in the bed of his friend’s pick up truck, filed a wrongful death complaint against several of her son’s friends when Ryan, after becoming intoxicated, exited the bed of the truck, ran onto the highway, and was struck by two vehicles, causing Ryan’s death.

The Tennessee Supreme Court considered whether Mr. Downs’ friends had a special duty to aid or protect Mr. Downs because of their close relationship as best friends and roommates.  The Court held that the law did not impose any special relationship upon the friends of the deceased by virtue of this relationship.

Furthermore, the Court ruled, in the first case of this kind to be brought before the Court, that the “designated driver” did not owe Mr. Downs any special legal duty more than the customary duty to exercise reasonable care when driving the vehicle.  The Court ruled against Mrs. Downs’ argument that a designated driver was required to take affirmative action to keep intoxicated passengers inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle and to ensure that the intoxicated passenger is not abandoned in a position of peril along the journey.  Instead, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the public was better served by encouraging individuals to serve as designated drivers rather than adopting a policy that could potentially discourage the practice.

To rule otherwise, the Tennessee Supreme Court would have impliedly discouraged designated drivers and left persons who were intoxicated or otherwise under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol to drive under the influence, thus committing the criminal offense of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in violation Of Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-401.  While the facts of this case cause one to be very sympathetic toward the family of the deceased, it is Mr. Oberman’s opinion that the Tennessee Supreme Court made the correct decision.

 

 

 

 

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