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A 4th DUI offense illustrates how penalties escalate

In the state of Tennessee, the penalties for a fourth DUI are much greater than they are for a first offense.

Here is what happens when the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol escalate.

A review of first-offender penalties

If a law enforcement officer arrests someone for driving under the influence of alcohol, the charge will be a Class A misdemeanor. The fine the driver pays will be anywhere from $350 to $1,500, depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest. The individual will lose his or her driver’s license for one year, minimum, and serve mandatory jail time of 48 hours. As a first offender, the driver will also be on probation for 11 months and 29 days. 

Anyone who violates probation in any way will go back to jail, this time for nearly a year. The driver will also have to attend an alcohol safety class plus DUI School and/or MADD Victim Impact Panel and be responsible for the associated fees.

Fourth offense penalties

With each new DUI offense, drivers can expect increasingly harsh penalties, and if they have a fourth DUI, they are looking at a Class E felony. At a minimum, they will have to pay $3,000 in fines and could pay as much as $15,000.

A person with a fourth DUI will lose his or her driver’s license for eight years, with no option for a restricted license, and may even have to forfeit his or her vehicle. Following license reinstatement, the court will likely order the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least six months. Drivers will have mandatory jail time of one year, 150 days of which they must serve consecutively.

If someone's fourth DUI is connected to a vehicle crash and/or a fatality, the penalties will become even more severe.

Thinking ahead

A driver may never give reason to law enforcement for a DUI arrest. However, those who already have a first conviction should keep the strict Tennessee laws in mind and make sure that first DUI is the last.

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