Tennessee has never taken drunk driving lightly. That is understandable since keeping people safe is important. However, it is also important to protect the rights of everyone, including those accused of crimes. However, just in time for the 2016 Fourth of July holiday, drivers in the state will need to keep an extra eye out for the long arm of the long as DUI penalties have taken a major step up.
A new law went into effect on July 1 and features many new elements. For starters, anyone who has previously been convicted of an impaired driving offense in another state and is now arrested for a DUI in Tennessee will be treated as a repeat offender. These prior offenses are not subject to any look-back period so even a conviction from 25 years earlier will count against a driver. Incarceration times will increase for subsequent convictions, some by more than double the current times for the same offenses.
While judges have had the ability to order ignition interlock devices even for first-time offenders, they have had to prove why IIDs were needed. That resulted in only about one-fifth of drivers using them. Now, IIDs will be required unless a judge can prove a reason for them not to be used. The goal here is have more people forced to use IIDs. Anyone who is convicted of a DUI offense in Tennessee will have their fingerprints submitted to a national crime center as well.
Clearly drivers who are stopped for suspected impaired driving can face an uphill battle in Tennessee. Talking to an attorney after an arrest may help to offer light on defense options.
Source: WBRC, "New laws take aim at anyone driving drunk in Tennessee," June 30, 2016