What is Felony DUI in Tennessee?
Felony DUI in Tennessee refers to a punishment imposed upon recidivist or repeat violators of the crime of driving under the influence – specifically someone who is on their fourth or more DUI conviction. The law imposes much greater penalties on those who continue to violate a law than a first-time offender. This phenomenon applies with full force when it comes to DUI law in Tennessee.
In Tennessee, the punishment for a first, second, and third-time offender of the DUI law is punished by misdemeanors. A first offense DUI carries a mandatory sentence of at least 48 hours in jail. A second offense DUI carries a mandatory sentence of at least seven days imprisonment. A third offense DUI carries a sentence of at least 45 days imprisonment in the county jail or workhouse. Any of these first-time offenses carry a maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days – less than a year.
However, Tennessee law provides that a person who has a fourth DUI conviction is treated as a felon. Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-402(a)(4) provides: “Any person violating § 55-10-401, upon conviction for a fourth offense, shall be sentenced as a felon to serve not less than one hundred fifty (150) consecutive days nor more than the maximum punishment authorized for the appropriate range of a Class E felony.”
The law provides even stiffer penalties for those with five or six or more DUI convictions. Tennessee law provides: “Any person violating § 55-10-401 [the main DUI statute], upon conviction for a fifth offense, shall be sentenced as a Class D felon and shall be sentenced to serve not less than the minimum sentence of imprisonment established in subdivision (a)(4) for a fourth offender, and not more than the maximum punishment authorized for the appropriate range of a Class D felony.”
And finally there is even more onerous penalties for those who have six or more DUI convictions. The law provides: “A sixth or subsequent conviction for violating § 55-10-401, or any other applicable prior conviction as described in § 55-10-405(c), is a Class C felony and any person sentenced under this subdivision (a)(6) shall be sentenced to serve no less than the minimum sentence of imprisonment established in subdivision (a)(4) for a fourth offender, and not more than the maximum punishment authorized for the appropriate range of a Class C felony.”
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More on Nashville Felony DUI Penalties
Thus, a person with four or more DUI convictions is a convicted felon. A fourth DUI offense leads to a Class E felony. A fifth DUI offense leads to a Class D felony. And a sixth or more DUI conviction brands one with a Class C felony. Under Tennessee law, there is a classification system for terms of imprisonment for felony convictions. Under Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-111, a Class E felony carries a maximum prison sentence of six years. A Class D felony carries a maximum prison sentence of 12 years. A Class E felony carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
Felony convictions obviously lead to a longer period of incarceration than a misdemeanor. But, the differences between a misdemeanor and a felony are dramatic in the legal system and society. Felony convictions have lasting consequences – much more so than a misdemeanor conviction. The collateral consequences of a felony conviction are severe to say the least. You can lose the right to vote and other basic rights of citizenship until you receive a restoration of your rights from a court. This judicial restoration of rights is not automatic.
For example, under Tennessee law, a felony conviction deprives a person of the right to vote. A person can apply for restoration of voting rights but must comply with certain requirements, such as paying all restitution and court costs. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-29-202(b) provides: “a person shall not be eligible to apply for a voter registration card and have the right of suffrage restored, unless the person has paid all restitution to the victim or victims of the offense ordered by the court as part of the sentence.”
One of the more lasting collateral consequences of a felony conviction is future employment. Many prospective employers ask job applicants about their criminal histories. A felony on the record does not look good to employers. Those seeking reintegration back into society with felonies on their record often have a much more difficult time.
Build Your Felony DUI Defense
Needless to say, if you are charged with any DUI you need to take great care and select the very best attorney to handle this sensitive situation. But, if you are facing felony DUI charges, the consequences are even more severe. You need to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled DUI cases. Attorney Philip Clark of PNC Law fits the bill. He not only is experienced in handling DUI cases but he also was a former police officer for more than twenty (20) years. Philip Clark knows the ins and outs of DUI law. His legal practice focuses solely on criminal law. He knows the legalities and illegalities of traffic stops. He excels at negotiation and communication.
Bottom line – if are facing felony DUI charges in Tennessee, contact Philip Clark of PNC Law.