In Tennessee, drunk driving penalties escalate as the number of prior offenses increases. While a person who is charged with a first drunk driving offense has a reasonable chance of escaping jail time, this becomes virtually impossible for a conviction of a second, third or fourth offense. Furthermore, although the crime is a misdemeanor, it becomes a felony on the fourth offense.
The severity of the penalty also depends on a number of other factors, such as the blood alcohol level, failing a field sobriety test, having an accident while drunk driving and several other circumstances that may increase the penalty and the sentence of the court. One situation that will likely result in a stiffer sentence is having minor children in the car when driving drunk. The prospect for a serious sentence gets even stronger when the defendant is charged with violation of the child restraint law for having an infant unrestrained in the car while drunk driving.
That is the basic scenario facing a 25-year-old woman who was charged with her second drunk driving offense recently. Authorities also charged her with reckless endangerment, violation of the implied consent law and violating the child restraint law by allegedly having a 3-year-old child unrestrained in the back seat. With a second offense for drunk driving in Tennessee, a defendant would face ominous punishment, including but not limited to a minimum of 45 days jail time, along with a two-year license suspension and hefty fines.
However, the defendant here is charged with violating the Tennessee implied consent law, meaning that she apparently refused to provide a blood test. That may make a conviction for drunk driving more problematic for the prosecution. Nonetheless, she will likely get a lengthy driver's license suspension because of the implied consent violation, and because she allegedly had a suspended license during the current offense. Furthermore, with the endangerment charge, she may receive a severe sentence in any event. Undoubtedly, these enhancements make it critical for the defendant to obtain experienced criminal defense representation.
Source: wkrn.com, "Police: Nashville mom arrested for DUI in Franklin with child in car", Sept. 14, 2015