Frequently, first offenders in DUI cases receive alternative sentencing options from courts. Whether you were recently involved in a DUI or know someone who was, knowing the alternatives to prison sentences or fines for Tennessee DUI offenders can help you move forward with your case (or give the right advice to someone else).
To schedule a consultation with our team for your DUI, contact us online or via phone at (731) 256-0023.
Will I Go to Jail for a First-Time DUI?
Yes. First-time DUI offenders must serve a minimum 48-hour jail sentence, or a minimum seven-day sentence if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .20% or higher. . If a first-time offender is convicted of a DUI, they can serve up to 11 months and 29 days in prison.
Fine for first-time offenders can also range from $350-1,500, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Additionally, first-time offenders are often prohibited from driving for up to a year following their DUI sentencing. If an offender's BAC is higher than .20%, they must also complete litter pick up for 24 hours after serving their seven-day jail sentence.
If you're thinking those sentences sound harsh, you'd be correct. Tennessee has harsh DUI laws compared to many other states in the U.S., an effort by the state to curtail high DUI rates.
For this reason, having a competent attorney by your side is vital. Before receiving a sentence, your attorney may be able to get you off the hook entirely by evaluating the methods used to determine your responsibility for a DUI and contest them in court.
However, avoiding a DUI conviction isn't always possible. In situations where a conviction is all but certain, pursuing certain other avenues can help you obtain a sentence that enables you to continue living your life.
Community Corrections Programs
For many first-time offenders, courts prefer utilizing the community corrections program over imposing harsh sentences on first-time DUI offenders. The program, intended to focus on criminal rehabilitation and keep non-violent offenders from crowding state prisons, has been incredibly effective - less than 10% of program participants become repeat offenders within a year of finishing their program requirements.
If you accept participation in a community corrections program, you will be placed under supervision, and can essentially serve out your sentence at home. You may be required to:
- Maintain gainful employment, if doing so is necessary to support yourself or your family;
- Attend a mandated treatment program to help you address any substance abuse issues that may have led to the DUI;
- Complete community service tasks, as designated by the court.
In addition to the community corrections program, first-time offenders may be able to pursue a judicial diversion.
If an offender can demonstrate to the court that receiving a diversion would be more beneficial to their health and long-term success than a conviction, they may be able to receive said diversion.
Depending on the circumstances of your DUI, a diversion could involve attending drug court, a court aimed at helping adults overcome substance abuse issues. Alternatively, minor offenders may receive a juvenile recovery diversion, which is similar to adult drug court, but for minors.
DUI court is more tailored towards repeat offenders, and aims to help them overcome substance abuse problems through consistent monitoring. Similarly, some family-oriented judicial diversion exists for cases where substance abuse is a result of child abuse or neglect.
Consult your lawyer and ask them what path they believe is best for your DUI case. Your attorney understands whether you should pursue participation in the community corrections program, seek a judicial diversion, or fight against your DUI charges in court.
To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us online or via phone at (731) 256-0023.