Tennessee drivers who repeatedly drink and drive and now face harsher penalties than ever before. Updated laws now focus on individuals who have been convicted of DUI four times or more. The consequences for convictions for these repeat offenders have become much more severe.

Stiffer consequences for DUI repeat offenders

Before recent legislation changes, conviction of a fourth DUI offense or greater was classified as a Class E felony, carrying a possible jail term of one to six years. Regardless of whether an individual committed a fifth, eighth, or even 12th DUI, the jail sentence was the same. Now, a sixth DUI counts as a Class C felony, resulting in a potential jail term of 15 years max. Individuals with four or five misdemeanor DUI convictions into previous felony DUI convictions are categorized as persistent repeat offenders, making them subject to harsher penalties.

Previously to these changes, only a small number DUI offenders received a six-year sentence that had to be served at least 50 percent. Persons convicted of DUI receiving 15 years may now have to serve at least 60% of that term. Individuals with seven or more DUIs are required to serve the full 15-year sentence.

With the passage of House Bill 167 in 2019, a fifth DUI offense was created, as well as the requirement for a seven-time offender to serve 100% of the maximum sentence.

Fingerprint requirement for DUI offenders

Among the newer laws affecting those convicted of DUI in Tennessee is one requiring individuals charged with DUI, along with other serious crimes, to be fingerprinted. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation must receive the fingerprints within five days. Those fingerprints are also sent to the National Crime Information Center.

This law resulted from a tragic accident involving a persistent DUI offender and the death of two Shelby County residents in Mississippi. The offender had five previous DUI convictions on his record, and at the time of the incident he was out of jail on bond from his sixth charge. This incident alerted authorities that the criminal histories of drivers convicted of DUI were not being reported consistently to the national crime database. Now, officers can conduct background checks of individuals they pull over and review drivers’ criminal histories and arrest records.

A DUI conviction Tennessee can change your life. You need a strong DUI attorney with experience to maneuver your case as effectively as possible to reduce your potential penalties.

At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we have your back when it comes to fighting aggressively against any DUI charges leveled against you. We are here to protect your rights and mount a strong defense on your behalf. To set up a consultation about your case, give us a call today at 865.428.8780, or send us a message through our contact form. We gladly serve clients throughout the state, including in Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Seymour.