While a DUI is generally treated as a misdemeanor offense, the penalties for a conviction are harsh for a first offense and even more severe for subsequent offenses. You may lose your job, your driving privileges, and even your freedom as a result of a DUI conviction. Contacting a Chattanooga DUI lawyer when you are facing DUI charges may be highly beneficial to the outcome of your case.
Getting legal assistance could be instrumental for a more favorable resolution of the charges that you are facing. A criminal defense lawyer could assess the evidence in your case and determine whether any irregularities exist. By obtaining the legal advice that you need in this situation, you may be better poised to fight back against the charges.
Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI) are interchangeable terms referring to the same offense for adults over the age of 21. DUI occurs when individuals operate or are in physical control of a motor vehicle in public while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI may also occur when individuals drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher.
When individuals have a BAC of .08 percent or higher, they legally are under the influence “per se”. This determination means that they are guilty of DUI even if they do not appear or act impaired in any way. However, evidence of impairment to the ability to drive also could trigger DUI charges, even if the person is under the influence of a legally prescribed narcotic.
The prospective penalties for a DUI conviction are severe, even for a first conviction. When individuals are convicted of a first DUI offense, they may face the following penalties:
Courts may also order individuals to complete a DUI education course or victim impact panel for a first-time DUI conviction. Furthermore, regardless of a conviction, alleged offenders still face a one-year license revocation if they refused to take a chemical test when arrested upon suspicion of DUI. A DUI lawyer in Chattanooga may be able to advise individuals about the full range of potential sanctions in DUI cases.
Second and subsequent DUI convictions carry the potential for drastically increased penalties. For instance, the vehicle used during the DUI offense becomes subject to forfeiture by law enforcement authorities. A second DUI conviction requires a minimum of 45 days in jail, and these minimum terms of confinement only increase as individuals accrue additional DUI convictions.
After a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction, the offense increases to a felony charge. A felony conviction removes various civil rights, such as the right to possess firearms. Some careers and jobs require that individuals have no felony convictions. Individuals convicted of felony DUI also may become ineligible for professional licenses for some occupations.
A DUI conviction has additional consequences that go far beyond those that the sentencing judge orders. The insurance premiums of individuals with a DUI conviction increase substantially, often for a lengthy period. Individuals also may be unable to rent a car based on rental car agency policies. Given the potential severity of the potential penalties for a DUI conviction, getting the advice of a DUI attorney in Chattanooga may be wise.
A DUI conviction on your record appears on background checks by prospective employers, landlords, and others for years to come. As a result, even a single conviction could be highly damaging to your future. Enlisting the services of a Chattanooga DUI lawyer may enable you to avoid or minimize the risk of suffering some of these adverse consequences.
Although DUI penalties vary somewhat from one case to another, they tend to be harsh and have a substantial impact on your life. Taking advantage of legal counsel may be the most effective means of remedying your legal situation in the most positive way possible.
By: Michael B.
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