Tennessee, much like the federal government, has been working towards criminal justice reform. The state has changed some laws when it comes to clearing your record, such as allowing people to clear up to two convictions, and reducing the costs associated with expungement.
Despite these changes, however, laws regarding driving under the influence were never put on the table. In 2014, the DUI Recidivism Reduction Act became a law, which allowed judges to help repeat offenders avoid jail time by allowing them to attend counseling, instead.
How a skilled DUI attorney fights to clear your name
The only way to protect against having a criminal record for DUI is to have the charges dismissed prior to a trial or to win an acquittal at trial.
Experienced DUI lawyers work to have the charges dismissed by showing that:
- Your blood alcohol level was below the legal limit
- The police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop you
- The sobriety, breath, or any other tests were not properly given
- There are explanations for your conduct
- Your rights were violated
- Other defenses that may apply
What records can you expunge in Tennessee?
Tennessee’s law on the destruction of criminal records can be found at Title 40, Chapter 32, Section 101. The law provides that “All public records of a person who has been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony shall, upon petition by that person to the court having jurisdiction in the previous action, be removed and destroyed without cost to the person” if one of the following four conditions apply:
(i) The charge has been dismissed;
(ii) A no true bill was returned by a grand jury;
(iii) A verdict of not guilty was returned, whether by the judge following a bench trial or by a jury; or
(iv) The person was arrested and released without being charged
Criminal conviction records can also be expunged, according to the statute, if the accused successfully completed a pretrial diversion program – subject to payment of the required court fees. Even when records can be expunged, there are many requirements that must be met including a five-year waiting period, no other criminal convictions, payment of court costs and fines, and other requirements.
Tennessee does not currently have a pretrial diversion program for DUI offenders – even if it is their first offense and even if nobody was hurt. Generally, anyone convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor where prison time was imposed is not eligible for an expungement of their criminal record, and as of now, neither are DUI convictions.
Drunk driving is dangerous, and it is deadly. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, one in three drivers who are arrested for a DUI are repeat offenders. Four out of every five drunk drivers involved in crashes are male. About 800 people nationwide are injured due to drunk driving – daily. We don’t want to insinuate that it’s harmless.
However, people who make mistakes should not have to pay for them for the rest of their lives. A DUI conviction can cost you your job and thousands of dollars of fines.
Having a criminal conviction for DUI on you record can affect your ability to find a job, obtain a gun permit, obtain auto insurance, and have other consequences. At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we’ve been providing aggressive representation for Tennessee residents charged with driving under the influence for more than 20 years. To understand your rights and when a dismissal of the charges may be possible, please call us at (865) 428-8780 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent defendants in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding Tennessee areas.