The main difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the amount of jail time that a specific charge carries. A misdemeanor carries a punishment of less than one year in jail; the offender will generally serve the required sentence in the county jail. A felony is characterized by incarceration of one year or more. Whether a person serves that time in a county jail or a state prison will depend on the length of the sentence.
A DUI is a misdemeanor in Tennessee, specifically a class A misdemeanor; however, the fourth DUI conviction, is a class E felony. The first three DUI convictions will have a maximum amount of jail time of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail. The minimum amount in jail time will continue to increase for each conviction.
Even though the first three convictions for a DUI are classified as misdemeanors, they will stay on your criminal record for life and carry harsh punishments affecting your life in various aspects.
For a first time DUI conviction, the minimum amount of jail time is forty-eight hours in the county jail or workhouse, and a fine of no less than $350 and no more than $1,500. You will be placed on probation for eleven months and twenty-nine days. The first conviction will also come with a one-year revocation of your license, and you will be required to attend an alcohol safety program and victim impact panel.
A second DUI conviction carries a minimum of forty-five days in jail and a maximum of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail. You will be placed on probation for eleven months and twenty-nine days. There is a fine of no less than $600 and no more than $3,500. For a second DUI conviction, you will have your license revoked for two years.
A third time DUI will carry a minimum of 120 days in jail and a maximum of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail. You will be placed on probation for eleven months and twenty-nine days. The fine for a third DUI conviction will be no less than $1,100 and no more than $10,000, and your license will be revoked for six years.
Refer to the article titled, “How long does a DUI stay on your record in TN?” for more information on this topic.