Posts Tagged DUI Penalties

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 This website allows individuals to not only discover the reinstatement requirements if their driving privileges have been revoked, but one may also add an emergency contact to their license, order a duplicate license, document a change of address, or even obtain a driving history.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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Update: Tennessee Driver License Reinstatement and Driving History

The Tennessee Department of Safety (TDOS) has updated their website to allow for individuals seeking a driver’s license reinstatement (e.g. following a revocation for a Tennessee DUI conviction) instant access to check the status of their driver’s license. This website will also allow for: Adding an Emergency Contact; Changing your Address; and the Ability to View any Reinstatement Requirements. Please keep in mind that you must have the following information in order to begin the process of accessing your driver’s license status: Tennessee Driver License/ID Number; Last Name; Last four (4) Digits of your Social Security Number; and Date of Birth. If you are unable to have access to the Internet, you may always call the TDOS at 1-866-903-7357. Tennessee drivers who have their license suspended or revoked should take advantage of this resource.

The Tennessee Department of Safety also provides resources for someone to obtain a copy of a Tennessee Driver Record/Driving History/ Motor Vehicle Record (or Tennessee MVR) online. You may also visit a full service Driver Service Center for a copy of your MVR (a list of these centers may be found here.) The following information on obtaining a copy of one’s driving record comes from the TDOS’s website:

You will need the following information to request your MVR online:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • TN Driver’s License Number
  • Credit Card/Check card Payment of $7.00

 

If you choose to go to a Driver Service Center for a copy of your MVR you will need the following:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • TN Driver’s License Number
  • $5.00 Payment

 

If you want someone else to obtain a copy of your MVR for you, you must submit a notarized statement authorizing that person to obtain the MVR.

You may also request a copy of your MVR by mail by mailing your request to:

                                    Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security

                                    MVR Request

                                    PO BOX 945

                                    Nashville, Tennessee 37202

Please take note there is a $5.00 charge for a copy of a three-year driving record.   You may either send a cashier’s check or money order made payable to Tennessee Department of Homeland Security. Please include the Driver’s Name; Birth Date; and TN Driver’s License Number. It will take about two weeks from the mailing date to receive the record. The federal Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) prohibits the release of personal identifying information from driver license and vehicle registration records unless an individual submits a form requesting their records be open.

The Oberman & Rice law firm often deal with issues surrounding Tennessee driver licenses, relating to Tennessee DUI offenses, as well as other traffic issues.  Should you have any legal issues surrounding your Tennessee driver license, our attorneys,  Steve and Sara are be available to speak with you and can be reached by calling 865-249-7200.

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Tennessee Motor Vehicle Driving Record (MVR) Now Available Online

Tennessee motorists can now obtain a Tennessee Driving History online.  As discussed in a previous post, Tennessee Driver License Reinstatement and Driving History, Tennesseeans were previously limited to obtaining this information by either submitting a request by mail or submitting a request in person at a Tennessee Driver Service Center.

A Tennessee licensee can obtain this Motor Vehicle Report (MVR), also often referred to as a Tennessee Driving History, by visiting https://apps.tn.gov/pmvr/.  The report costs $7, which may be paid by credit card or check card; however, a prepaid card is not an acceptable payment option.  The motorist will further need to provide the Driver name, date of birth, and Tennessee driver license number.

The Oberman & Rice law firm often deal with issues surrounding Tennessee driver licenses, relating to Tennessee DUI offenses, as well as other traffic issues.  Should you have any legal issues surrounding your Tennessee driver license, our attorneys,  Steve and Sara are be available to speak with you and can be reached by calling 865-249-7200.

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Tennessee Highway Patrol Using Tractor Trailer to Catch Distracted Drivers

As part of its new campaign to identify and cite drivers who are texting and driving, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has a new strategy to catch distracted drivers. They are using the THP tractor-trailer truck to get a higher, better look at what drivers are doing inside their vehicles in hopes that this vantage point will help spot those texting and driving. The troopers are able to spot other violations from the truck such as lane changes and seat belt violations, but the main focus of the campaign is texting and driving.

Interestingly, the new Tennessee Highway Patrol tractor-trailer has THP logos and roof-mounted emergency lights, just like a standard patrol vehicle. Once the driver of the tractor trailer spots a driver violating the law, they radio to another trooper who then makes the stop.  The THP took the tractor-trailer to the roads recently for a special two-day enforcement campaign. In just two days, troopers issued 190 tickets using the big rig. Troopers cited 16 people for texting while driving, 21 for speeding, and 78 for not wearing a seatbelt. It is important to understand that a standard traffic violation can lead to a DUI arrest if the driver, once he or she is stopped, is suspected of Driving Under the Influence.

Anyone arrested for DUI (driving under the influence), or another related charge, should immediately contact a Tennessee DUI Attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about Tennessee traffic violations, Steve and Sara are available by calling 865-249-7200.  You may also wish to visit www.tndui.com for more information about the offense of driving under the influence in Tennessee.

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All lawyers were not created equal — Hiring a Tennessee DUI Lawyer

Choosing the right Tennessee DUI lawyer is a critical decision that must be taken seriously.  A Driving Under the Influence charge is often the first interaction many people have with the criminal justice system, which naturally leads to stress and uncertainty about the criminal process and possible repercussions.  Many people often receive a flood of mail following a DUI arrest from attorneys, but it makes sense to carefully consider all options.

If you hire a lawyer and become dissatisfied with your choice, while your case is pending or even after a DUI conviction, it may be difficult to retain a different DUI attorney.  For instance, because it is so important to begin investigating a DUI quickly, our office is often reluctant to to take a case after another lawyer has been retained and precious time to investigate has been lost.   Therefore, the first decision should be made after considering the following:

  1. What is the focus of the attorney’s practice?  Are they, and for how long have they been primarily devoted to DUI defense?
  2. Has the lawyer had any complaints filed against him or her?
  3. What books and articles has the attorney published?
  4. Did the DUI attorney graduate from an ABA accredited law school?
  5. Has the Tennessee Commission on CLE & Specialization and the National College for DUI Defense certified the attorney as a DUI Defense Specialist?
  6. What reviews has the attorney received from lawyer review agencies like Avvo?
  7. Has the lawyer achieved Martindale-Hubbell’s™ prestigious “AV” (very high to preeminent) rating?
  8. When and how often has the attorney lectured to his or her peers about DUI Defense?

We encourage prospective clients to devote the appropriate time, usually 2 hours, to properly investigate and speak with an attorney about their case.  In our office, Steve and Sara are available every day of the year to discuss pending DUI charges.  Please contact us at 865-249-7200 with any questions.

 

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Tennessee Driver License Reinstatement and Driving History

We are often asked how to obtain information from the Tennessee Department of Safety (TDOS) for driver license reinstatement (e.g. following a revocation for a Tennessee DUI conviction).  While one could certainly call the TDOS at 1-866-903-7357, the easier course of action is to check the status of a Tennessee driver license by visiting the TDOS website.  This is a wonderful resource for Tennessee residents whose driver license is revoked or suspended, however the following information is required to process a request: ; Last Name; Last Four (4)  Digits of your Social Security Number; and Date of Birth.

A related question is: how do I obtain a copy of a Tennessee Driver Record/Driving History/Motor Vehicle Record (also referred to as Tennessee MVR) online?   Tennessee does provide an option to obtain this report online.  A person may also obtain a copy of their MVR by visiting a full service Driver Service Center, a list of which can be viewed by clicking here.  The following information on obtaining a copy of one’s driving record comes from the Tennessee Department of Safety website:

You will need the following when requesting your record:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Driver License Number

If you want someone else to obtain a copy of your MVR for you, you must submit a notarized statement authorizing that person to obtain the record.

You may also obtain a copy of your driver record (also called a motor vehicle record or MVR) by mailing your request to:

Tennessee Department of Safety
MVR Request
PO BOX 945
Nashville, TN 37202

There is a $5.00 charge for a copy of a three-year driver record. A cashier’s check or money order should be made payable to the Tennessee Department of Safety. If mailing, allow two weeks from the mailing date to receive the driver record. The federal Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) prohibits the release of personal identifying information from driver license and vehicle registration records unless an individual submits a form requesting their records be open.

The Oberman & Rice law firm often deal with issues surrounding Tennessee driver licenses, relating to Tennessee DUI offenses, as well as other traffic issues.  Should you have any legal issues surrounding your Tennessee driver license, our attorneys,  Steve and Sara are be available to speak with you and can be reached by calling 865-249-7200.

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Revoked License Reporting Error

In accordance with a Tennessee state law that was passed in 2011, the Knox County government provided the Tennessee Department of Safety with a list of people who had failed to pay their litigation taxes and fines (often referred to as “court costs”) within one year after their criminal cases were resolved.  As a result, nearly 1,300 motorists who faced a criminal offense in Knox County in 2012, including traffic offenses, received a letter earlier this month informing them that their driver licenses would be revoked for failing to timely pay their court costs. Unfortunately, as the  Knox News Sentinel reported on January 25, 2013, officials recently discovered that many people should not have been included on the list submitted to the Department of Safety.  According to the Knox News Sentinel, over 500 people never owed court costs or had timely completed their obligations to the court.  Even though the Department of Safety has been notified of the error, the consequences of this mishap remain unclear.   For more information about this developing story, read Clerical Error May Cause Wrongful Revocation of Driver’s License by our firm’s managing partner Steve Oberman.

It is important to note that Driving on a Revoked License is a criminal offense, and an officer may immediately arrest anyone found driving with a revoked license.  Moreover, a person who drives while his or her license is revoked as the result of a DUI conviction will be made to serve at least 48 hours in jail if convicted of Driving on a Revoked License.  Please contact Steve and Sara for further assistance if you have a question about your driver’s license.  You may reach our attorneys by calling (865) 249-7200.

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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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Could I be charged after the fact if my friend got a DUI in my car in which I was a passenger?

Law enforcement officers investigating a potential crime make important decisions about who to arrest.  At the scene of a suspected DUI an officer may decide to arrest and charge both the driver and passenger of a vehicle with the offense of Driving Under the Influence.  Depending on the circumstances, an officer may choose to only arrest the driver of the vehicle if the officer suspects DUI.

The state prosecutor, however, is not required to follow the officer’s decisions.  After an arrest is made, a prosecutor may learn of additional facts, like the ownership of the vehicle involved in the crime.  In response to this knowledge, a prosecutor may issue additional arrest warrants for uncharged defendants or increase the severity of the charges.

In most DUI cases, the prosecutor has one year from the date of the offense to bring charges – the statute of limitations for Tennessee misdemeanor offenses.  For more serious DUI-related offenses involving multiple offenses, bodily injury, or death, the prosecutor may take up to 15 years to bring charges.

The criminal defense attorneys at Oberman & Rice are able to provide advice and counsel both before and after arrest.  Should you have any questions about a Tennessee DUI issue, you may contact Steve and Sara by calling (865) 249-7200.  Our Tennessee DUI website, provides additional information about the crime of DUI and its associated penalties.

[Source: Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-2-101 & § 40-2-102]

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