What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Tennessee?

Should I Just Plead Guilty in My DUI Case?

If you were recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), there is a good chance that you have an otherwise spotless criminal history. As such, you might prefer that the whole sordid mess just go away – and the sooner the better. The prosecution knows this, which is why they are more than willing to offer you a guilty plea agreement that does not require you to spend any more time in jail. Before you consider taking that deal, a Murfreesboro criminal lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains why you might not want to plead guilty in your DUI case.

Probation Sounds Easy, But…

The prosecutor will likely offer you a guilty plea agreement that includes a significant term of probation. As someone who has never been in troubleWhat Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Tennessee? before, all you are seeing is a way for this all to be over without going back to jail. What you don’t realize is how restrictive and intrusive probation can be – and how easy it can be to violate your probation. Among the conditions of your probation will likely be a requirement to report in person once a month at your officer’s convenience, no leaving the State of Tennessee without permission, abstaining from alcohol, and submitting to random drug screens. The reality is that probation can be difficult to successfully complete for even the most responsible, well-intentioned people. If you violate your probation, the judge can revoke your probation and make you serve your entire suspended sentence in jail.

A Conviction Has Consequences 

Before jumping at an agreement just because it seems like the fastest way to make the situation go away, consider the potential future ramifications of a conviction. For example, a DUI conviction will be on your criminal record forever. As such, it may disqualify you for future employment and/or subject you to disciplinary action at your current job. Most people are unaware that a job doesn’t even need to involve operating a vehicle for a DUI to disqualify them for the job, or at least negatively impact the odds of being offered the job.

Do you have minor children? If so, a DUI conviction could be used to limit your parenting time.  Sadly, custody of minor children is something that is frequently contested by parents during, or after, a divorce. The same is true for parenting time (visitation). If you have minor children, the other parent could use a DUI conviction against you by arguing that you have an alcohol problem and/or that the children should not be in the vehicle with you.

Consider the Cost

People often operate under the mistaken belief that hiring a criminal lawyer to defend them when charged with a DUI is going to be more expensive than just accepting the guilty plea offered by the prosecutor.  The costs associated with pleading guilty to a DUI conviction without the assistance of an attorney are numerous and add up quickly. You will be ordered to pay court costs and fines as well as supervision, evaluation, and testing fees while on probation. On top of all those expenses, your car insurance will increase – often more than double – for the next three to five years. You may also be stuck paying for the cost of an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.

You Might Be Able to Avoid a Conviction 

The most important reason to avoid accepting a guilty plea agreement right off the bat is the simple fact that a conviction is not a foregone conclusion – despite what the prosecutor may lead you to believe. On the contrary, there are often viable defenses that could work to help you avoid a conviction altogether. You owe it to yourself, your family, and your future to at least explore the possibility of avoiding a criminal conviction.

Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Lawyer

If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. In Tennessee contact a Murfreesboro criminal lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby to discuss your legal options. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.


Dinah Michael