Posts Tagged DUI Penalties

Labor Day Weekend 2019: Sobriety Checkpoints Planned for East Tennessee

Drivers in East Tennessee need to be mindful during the upcoming Labor Day Weekend while driving to the lake for one more weekend of “fun in the sun” before the summer ends and football time begins! Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers and other law enforcement agencies will be out in force in most of the East Tennessee area this Labor Day weekend ensuring that motorists are not driving while impaired or committing traffic violations.

The 2019 holiday enforcement period begins Friday, August 30, and will include several sobriety checkpoints in the following East Tennessee counties: Union, Campbell, Monroe and Sevier. For a full list of checkpoints please click here.

The DUI defense lawyers at Oberman & Rice are always willing to help those who may find themselves being arrested at one of these checkpoints or being cited for a traffic violation. If you or a loved one find yourself in need of a skilled trial lawyer, please make sure to contact one of our three law partners 24/7 at (865) 249-7200 or by visiting www.tndui.com.

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Don’t Drink and Scoot

On July 1, 2019, several new laws and modifications of current Tennessee DUI laws were implemented.  The first we will discuss (with more updates to follow on this blog) refers to all of the scooters that have become common place in most major downtown areas in Tennessee.  In downtown Knoxville, for example, you cannot walk a block without seeing these scooters available for rent.  In case you are not familiar with these scooters, one such company called Zagster has released these scooters for rent and places many of them around busy areas hoping for people passing by to rent one to travel (or scoot) around the city.  It is hard pressed to not see at least one person zooming along the street or sidewalk on one of these devices. 

The new law, mentioned above, aims to eliminate the problem of impaired people renting these scooters by making such an action punishable under Tennessee’s DUI laws.  As this recent article on WKRN states, these electric scooters will be considered motor-driven vehicles.  This language is important because under Tennessee’s DUI laws, the operator must be in physical control of a motor-driven vehicle to be arrested for a DUI.  As we have discussed previously on this blog (and at our website- www.tndui.com), if convicted of a DUI you face some of the following punishments: mandatory jail time (up to 48 hours on a First Offense); fines; required attendance of a Drug Education Course and a loss of your Tennessee driving privilege. 

Please remember that over this holiday weekend if you decide to enjoy the festivities in an area that allows for these scooters to be rented, please do not drink and scoot.  You may find yourself being placed under arrest for a DUI!  If you’ve been charged with Driving Under the Influence in Tennessee while on one of these scooters, operating a boat or while driving in your vehicle, please contact the Oberman and Rice Law Firm at (865) 249-7200.  We are available 24/7.

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“No Refusal” Sobriety Checkpoints on New Year’s Eve

On New Year’s Eve, as 2016 draws to a close, Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers will be out in force with multiple sobriety checkpoints throughout the state.

In East Tennessee, “No Refusal” Sobriety Checkpoints are planned in Knox, Loudon, Roane, Campbell, and Sevier County. For the exact locations and a full list of all planned checkpoints throughout the state, click here.

The term “No Refusal” relates to the use of chemical tests (blood, breath, or urine) to measure the concentration of alcohol or drugs in a person’s system. Usually, a person who is arrested for DUI has the right to refuse to consent to a chemical test, although there are exceptions to the right to refuse and there are consequences to refusing. If an arrestee refuses to consent, a law enforcement officer has the option of obtaining a search warrant that requires the arrestee to submit to a chemical test.

During “No Refusal” enforcement periods, like this holiday weekend, the Tennessee Highway Patrol typically has a Tennessee judge (or judges) on call.  If a person is arrested for DUI and refuses to submit to a chemical test, and if the judge determines that the requisite legal grounds exist, the judge will issue a search warrant. This search warrant allows the officer to obtain a chemical test (most often a blood sample), even over the objection or refusal of the motorist placed under arrest.

Anyone arrested for DUI, or another related charge, should immediately contact a Tennessee DUI lawyer familiar with Tennessee DUI laws.  For more information about the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) or about your legal rights with respect to a Tennessee Highway Patrol checkpoint, SteveSara, or AZ 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. Even during this busy holiday season, the DUI Defense attorneys at Oberman & Rice are available to speak with you 24/7.

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, 8th 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.

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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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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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DUI: Misdemeanor or Felony?

A First Offense DUI in Tennessee is always a Misdemeanor (sentence of less than 1 year in jail) if no accidents, injuries, or deaths result from the offense.  However, all DUI convictions require defendants to serve at least 48 hours in jail, which is a harsher punishment than a defendant would receive for most other Misdemeanors.

Even though Second and Third Offense DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, the mandatory minimum sentences are 45 and 120 days respectively for Second and Third Offenses.  A Fourth or subsequent DUI Offense is a Felony Offense (sentence of 1 year or more in jail) and, upon conviction, requires that a defendant serve 150 days in jail.  These mandatory jail sentences are significantly harsher than mandatory minimum sentences for nearly every other Misdemeanor Offense.

Jail time is one of many penalties that are unique to DUI.  Please visit TNDUI.COM for more details about the penalties for DUI offenses in Tennessee.   A Tennessee DUI attorney can help you avoid the harshest punishment.  Please contact Knoxville DUI attorneys Steve and Sara at (865) 249-7200 if you have any DUI-related questions.

[Source: T.C.A. 55-10-403]

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Tennessee Laws Get Tougher

At least two Tennessee laws have made it more difficult to defend persons accused of driving under the influence and, in another change, the DUI penalty when accompanied by someone under the age of 18 has increased.

The 2012 Tennessee Legislature amended Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-406, also known as the Implied Consent Law.  This law applies when an officer requests the suspect to submit to chemical testing (blood, breath, or urine).  The amendment clarified that an individual may be compelled to submit to a chemical testing if the testing is mandated by:

  1. A Court Order;
  2. A search warrant; or
  3. When a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of another is guilty of vehicular  homicide, aggravated vehicular homicide, or DUI.

 

The Legislature also amended Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-402 to clarify that no defense to DUI exists when a person is under the influence of an intoxicant even if they are entitled to lawfully use the substance/intoxicant.

Moreover, the penalty for a person convicted of DUI who was accompanied by a person under the age of 18 was enhanced.  It now requires a mandatory minimum period of 30 days in jail and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.00.  This law, which amended Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-403, states that the incarceration enhancement must be served in addition to, and at the conclusion of, any jail time and fine otherwise imposed for the underlying DUI offense.  Likewise, the fine enhancement must be in addition to any fine imposed by law as a result of the Tennessee DUI conviction.

Laws such as these emphasize the importance of hiring a Tennessee lawyer who is educated about the newest laws and prepared to aggressively defend you.  Too many people are wrongfully accused of driving under the influence and related charges.  If you would like further information about these laws, or your case, you may contact the Oberman and Rice Law Firm at (865) 249-7200.

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How long can a person go to jail for a Tennessee DUI?

The number of prior DUI convictions in a defendant’s past significantly affects the amount of jail time a defendant may expect to serve if he or she is convicted of a Tennessee DUI.  It is important to note that the prior convictions need not be from Tennessee.  Even out of state DUI convictions can be used against a person accused of committing a Tennessee DUI offense.

Tennessee DUI law requires minimum amounts of jail time to be served for all DUI convictions.  If a defendant is convicted of a DUI, the judge MUST sentence that defendant to the minimum amount of time established by Tennessee DUI law, ranging from 48 hours in jail up to 150 days in jail, depending upon the offense.  On the other hand, the judge may sentence a defendant to more than the mandatory minimum amount of time – this is more likely to occur with multiple convictions.  Please visit our website for a full list of penalties for DUI convictions.

TN DUI lawyers know that any time in jail causes a major disruption in a person’s life, which is why anyone charged with DUI in Tennessee should consult with a Tennessee DUI attorney as soon as possible.  If you have questions about your Tennessee DUI charge and associated penalties, our lawyers are available to assist you.  Sara, Steve, or Nate will be happy to speak with you at (865) 249-7200.  

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Can A Prior Out-Of-State Conviction Be Used Against You?

If my prior DUI conviction was in another state, can it be used in Tennessee to charge me with a second offense DUI?

Any DUI conviction from another state may be used against you if arrested for a Tennessee DUI offense.  If the time criteria is met, a prior, out-of-state DUI may be used to enhance your Tennessee DUI conviction to a DUI second offense or greater, depending upon the facts of your prior conviction(s).  Tennessee does honor DUI convictions from all other jurisdictions in the country.

It is important to note that the arresting officer may not know about the out-of-state conviction(s) at the time of the Tennessee DUI arrest.  The officer’s initial arrest warrant, and any paperwork a person receives following a DUI arrest, may state that the charge is DUI, first offense.   However, the state prosecutor may amend the initial Tennessee DUI charge to multiple offense DUI  when more information becomes available.

Tennessee DUI law allows for a person to challenge an out-of-state conviction, and a skilled DUI attorney may prevent it from being used against you in your Tennessee DUI case.  Be sure to consult with a Tennessee Defense Attorney to determine if a conviction in another state could be used against you.  A successful challenge to an out-of-state conviction could make a significant difference in a defendant’s case and punishment.

[Source: Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-403]

 

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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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When Will Your Prior DUI Conviction Be Used Against You?

Understanding when and if a prior conviction for Driving Under the Influence can be used against you to increase the penalties of a second or subsequent DUI conviction can be complicated and confusing.  In Tennessee, this determination has been further complicated by a recent change in the law (Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-403(a)(3)), which became effective July 1, 2010 and is discussed in more detail below.

To determine when a person is classified as a Tennessee DUI multiple offender, we first must answer the question: how far back does Tennessee look for prior convictions?  This time period is also often referred to as the “look back” period.  Typically, this “look back” period is 10 years, but depending upon the circumstances of the case, this period may be extended up to 20 years. Knoxville DUI attorneys Steve Oberman and Sara Compher-Rice are available to answer your questions about the Tennessee “look back” period and how it may affect your Tennessee DUI case.

The next question is how (or from what dates) is the “look back” period calculated?  This calculation is impacted by  the new Tennessee DUI law.  When examining the initial 10-year period, the calculation should be made as follows:

Arrests prior to July 1, 2010: Compute 10 years from the date of conviction for the current offense to the date of conviction of the previous DUI offense.

Arrests on or after July 1, 2010: Compute 10 years from the date of the current offense (current arrest date) to the date of the previous offense (previous arrest date).

In other words, the calculation has changed from conviction date to conviction date to now being determined from DUI arrest date to DUI arrest date.

Should you have any additional questions about the offense of DUI in Tennessee or the associated penalties, please visit the Oberman & Rice websites at www.tndui.com and www.duiknoxville.comSteve and Sara may also be reached by calling (865) 249-7200.

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Knoxville, TN Ignition Interlock Device Coupon (Free Installation)

As discussed in previous blog posts, New TN Ignition Interlock Device Laws–Part 1, New TN Ignition Interlock Device Laws–Part 2, and New TN Ignition Interlock Device Laws–Part 3, many Tennessee DUI offenders may be required by law to have an ignition interlock device installed their vehicle.

The Oberman and Rice Law Firm has discovered a fantastic coupon offering free installation and, in some instances, free first month’s lease for the Guardian Interlock device.  Click here to obtain a copy of this coupon.

This offer is only valid at the following authorized Guardian Interlock distributor:

National Auto Parts, Inc.
4733 Clinton Highway
Knoxville, TN 37912
(865) 687-6061

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Driver’s License Reinstatement Following DUI Conviction

One consequence of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and related convictions, such as Implied Consent Violation, is the loss of the person’s Tennessee driver’s license.  Depending upon the facts of the case, the Tennessee driver’s license revocation can range from one year to more than ten years.  Once the revocation period expires, the person is not allowed to simply start driving. Rather, specific steps must be taken to have one’s driver’s license properly reinstated with the Tennessee Department of Safety.

Failure to reinstate your Tennessee driver’s license could result in your arrest if you drive while unlicensed.  In fact, a conviction for Driving on a Revoked, Suspended or Canceled Driver’s License could result in a mandatory jail sentence if your license had been revoked, suspended, or canceled as a result of a DUI conviction.  Eligibility for driver’s license reinstatement is not a defense to this crime.

To find out when your Tennessee driver’s license is eligible for reinstatement and to how to accomplish this goal, you may click here for detailed information relating to reinstating your Tennessee driving privilege. To obtain this information, you should be prepared to provide your Tennessee driver’s license/ID number.

If you have any additional questions about Tennessee driver’s license consequences of a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction, Steve Oberman and Sara Compher-Rice are available to speak with you and answer your questions.  Steve and Sara can be reached by calling (865) 249-7200.  You may also find additional information about the crime and consequences of DUI on our firm’s websites: www.tndui.com and www.duiknoxville.com.

 

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Your Right to Refuse a Breath Test or Blood Test Has Changed!

It is fairly common knowledge that Tennessee citizens have long had the statutory right to refuse an officer’s request to submit to a chemical test of the officer’s choice if the officer had “reasonable grounds” (probable cause) to believe the driver had committed the offense of Driving Under the Influence (DUI or DWI) in most DUI cases.  As of July 1, 2009, however, this law has changed. Tennessee Public Chapter 324 has amended Tennessee Code Annotated Section 55-10-406 to eliminate the right of the driver to refuse a breath test, blood test, or urine test if the law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the driver has committed the crime of DUI, vehicular assault or vehicular homicide and was involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of another.

 

If the officer has probable cause to believe the driver has committed one of aforementioned violations AND an accident with injury or death occurs, the officer is required to test the driver to determine the alcohol or drug content in the driver’s blood.  The driver does not have the right to refuse the requested test.

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Can My Tennessee DUI Conviction be Erased from My Record?

A typical misconception in our society is that criminal convictions, including Tennessee DUI convictions, can be erased from a criminal record.  Tennessee law allows for a charge to be expunged, or erased, from one’s record only if the charge has been dismissed.  The passage of time alone, even for years, will not be sufficient to allow for expungement under Tennessee law.  This is why it is so important to obtain the best possible representation as soon as possible after a DUI, traffic or other criminal charge has been brought against you.  Once convicted, the record of that conviction remains on your criminal history forever – possibly causing the loss of job opportunities, and affecting one’s ability and or the rates of life and health insurance.

Once a charge is dismissed (whether by agreement, acquittal a “no true bill” or executive clemency), specific procedures must be followed to request expunction of public records relating to the arrest.  To ensure that the proper procedures are followed, one should retain a lawyer to assist with the process.  The process, however, can take up to 12 weeks due to the necessity of obtaining the necessary approval of the prosecution, the judge, and the various law enforcement agencies involved.

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