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A look at Tennessee's tough DUI laws

Though Tennessee's known for its conservative approach to law enforcement, some people want our state to get even tougher. House Bill 0167 is another effort to make it easier for prosecutors to try to impose harsh penalties on those accused of DUI.

The reality of state law is that a person can't even decline to submit to a blood test to determine if BAC (blood alcohol content) is above the legal limit of ,08 percent.

If a Shelby County, Memphis or state police officer asks you to take a blood test to determine BAC, you will have your driver's license revoked for a full year for refusing the test. And that's for the first offense. A second violation results in a two-year license revocation, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security says on its website.

What happens if you take the blood test and are then charged and convicted of DUI? A first offense means jail time that ranges from 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days behind bars. For those who have a BAC of .2 percent or higher, jail time is a minimum of seven consecutive days.

It should be noted as well that a first drunk driving offense also results in a 12-month driver's license revocation, though you can be eligible in some situations for a restricted license. A first offense also requires participation in an alcohol and drug treatment program, as well as a fine of between $350 and $1,500. Plus, you can be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle (at your expense).

Punishments for subsequent offenses involve dramatically longer incarceration and heavier fines.

If you face these penalties, contact a Memphis attorney experienced in effective DUI defense to learn more about your legal options.

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Jack P. Sherman, Attorney at Law
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