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120 Days in Jail For First Offense DUI Upheld on Appeal

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a misdemeanor in Tennessee when it is the person's first conviction of that crime. However, that doesn't mean it isn't serious. It can still result in significant jail time. In the recent case of State v. Christopher, E2012-01090-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 3-14-2013), the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the imposition of one-hundred and twenty days of jail (followed by the balance of the eleven month and twenty-nine day sentence on probation) for a defendant's misdemeanor first offense conviction.

In the Christopher case, the defendant was convicted by a jury of first offense DUI accompanied by a child under the age of eighteen (a Class A misdemeanor), unlawful possession of prescription drugs, and violating implied consent. She had denied guilt and suggested any appearance of impairment was related to her disability and health problems. All sentences were imposed concurrently. The trial court ordered a split confinement of one-hundred and twenty-nine days. The trial court was required to impose at least thirty days confinement due to there being a child in the vehicle (there were four children in the vehicle). The trial court indicated that the defendant's health problems were the only reason the court did not order the entire sentence to be served in confinement.

Among the reasons the Court of Criminal Appeals noted for finding the trial court's sentencing decision to not be an abuse of discretion, were that the defendant had been on bond for a pending DUI charge in another county, had prior convictions for public intoxication and assault, and had four children in her car.

For more information on DUI related issues, contact Hindman & Associates.

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