Having a drink or two then driving does not always constitute a criminal offense. In fact, there are many people accused of drunk driving who do not get convicted. One of the easiest ways to avoid such charges, of course, is to abstain from alcohol before driving. It's also a good idea to familiarize oneself with current Tennessee drunk driving laws.
As of the first of January, penalties for multiple intoxicated driving convictions increased. Prior to that date, state law categorized four or more DUI charges as a Class E felony. Sentencing under conviction could include one to six years behind bars.
The new law has listed multiple DUI charges as a Class D felony. If a person is charged for a sixth time, he or she faces anywhere from six to 12 years in prison if convicted. A District Attorney General in Sullivan County said the new law is meant to keep chronic drunk drivers off the road for longer stretches of time. Fines will also reportedly be levied against repeat offenders, and they will have to serve probation after being released from jail.
Most Tennessee motorists will obviously want to avoid such stiff penalties. If a motorist is pulled over in a traffic stop and charged with drunk driving, one of the first steps he or she can take in the hope of avoiding conviction is to request immediate guidance from a criminal defense lawyer. In fact, beyond answering questions regarding basic information such as name or address, a motorist has the right to request legal representation before discussing the situation any further.
Source: wcyb.com, "Tennessee harshens penalties for multiple DUI offenses", Olivia Bailey, Dec. 30, 2016