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Court May Not Revoke a Driver's License for DUI

Revocation of a driver's license is one of the mandatory statutory penalties in Tennessee for committing a first offense DUI. However, it is the Tennessee Department of Safety which revokes the license. A court imposing a DUI conviction must collect the offender's driver's license and forward it and the judgment to the Department of Safety. Though the court may prohibit an offender from driving as a condition of probation, that order cannot extend beyond the length of the sentence and is not in itself a revocation of the license. In the recent Tennesse case of State v. Teasley, M2014-00507-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 1-30-2015), the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a trial court order prohibiting a DUI offender from driving for five years.

In the Teasley case, the defendant pled guilty to a number of offenses, including two separate offenses of 'first offense' DUI. Sentencing was reserved for a trial court sentencing hearing. After hearing the evidence of the circumstances of the offense, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty-three months and twenty-eight days (aligning some counts consecutively and some concurrently), and suspended all but one-hundred eighty days of the sentence. After serving the jail portion of the sentence, the defendant was placed on probation for the balance. The trial court also ordered that the defendant "lose" his license for five years.

On appeal (only the license order was appealed), the Court of Criminal Appeals noted that state law requires revocation of a drivers' license for one year for a first offense DUI. It also noted that a trial court could order a defendant to not drive as a condition of probation. But that order can only extend for the length of the effective sentence. The Court reversed the judgments and ordered them modified to reflect that the defendant would lose driving privileges for two years from the date of the judgments (one year for each of the two first offense DUI convictions).

For information regarding the potential consequences of a DUI conviction, contact Hindman & Associates,

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