Tennessee has always been tough on those accused of drunk driving. But after several years of legislative enhancements, those arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) face even tougher possible sentences if they are convicted.

A recent news article pointed out those DUI offenders with six or more convictions can now be sentenced to serve 15 years behind bars – of which they must serve at least 60 percent. That works out to a minimum of nine years for those in that admittedly rare situation.

House Majority Leader William Lamberth was chair of the Criminal Justice Committee for two terms, working on DUI enhancements.  “As we started increasing the penalties for repeat DUI offenders, one thing became readily apparent is that most of these offenders were being caught driving on a revoked license for their previous DUI,” he said.

In order to today get a restricted Tennessee driver’s license after a drunk driving conviction, a driver must have an ignition interlock installed in their vehicle and keep it there, at their expense, for a minimum of a year. You can’t get your license reinstated without having had the ignition interlock in your car for at least a calendar year.

Let’s take a look at current drunk driving penalties for a first offense:

  • Jail: 48 hours minimum; 11 months, 29 days maximum (if the BAC is .20 percent or greater, the minimum is escalated to 7 days behind bars)
  • License: revoked for a year (restricted driver’s license available)
  • Fine: up to $1,500
    Mandated: ignition interlock device installation at your expense

Second DUI conviction:

  • Jail: 45-day minimum; 11 months, 29 days maximum
  • License: revoked for two years (restricted driver’s license available)
  • Fine: up to $3,500
  • Mandated: ignition interlock device installation at your expense

Third DUI offense:

  • Jail: 120-day minimum; 11 months, 29 days maximum
  • License: revoked for six years (restricted driver’s license available)
  • Fine: up to $10,000
  • Mandated: ignition interlock device installation at your expense

As you can see, the penalties get progressively harsher for each offense. To avoid the most painful sanctions available, speak with a Germantown attorney experienced in protecting rights, freedom and driving privileges in DUI defense.