On July 1, Tennessee began a new fiscal year. With that beginning came a number of new drunk driving laws that went into effect. Anyone convicted of driving under the influence could face harsher penalties.
The majority of the changes will not affect first-time offenders as much as they will those who are repeat offenders. The biggest change for first-time offenders is that unless good cause is shown, an ignition interlock device will be ordered for everyone convicted of drunk driving. Law enforcement officials are also now required to run criminal background checks on every driver suspected of being impaired.
Another change is that all DUI convictions will be included in tabulating prior convictions, regardless of where or when they occurred. Those convicted of a DUI six or more times will now be treated as Class C felons, which is up from the former Class E felony. This means a substantial increase in incarceration and other penalties is possible should a conviction be secured. For those who face vehicular assault or vehicular homicide charges in connection with an alcohol-related accident, fingerprints will be put into the database of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation within five days of the arrest. If the individual is convicted, those fingerprints must be added to the National Crime Information Center no later than seven days after the conviction is entered.
These are just some of the changes that were made to the DUI laws here in the state and went into effect on July 1. Far more than just a driver's license suspension or a fine is now at stake. For anyone arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, it is even more important than ever that he or she retain criminal defense counsel as quickly as possible.
Source: grundycountyherald.com, "New Drunk Driving Laws to Take Effect", June 30, 2016