From Class E to Class C Felony Multiple DUI Offense Law Changes in Tennessee

Published: Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
Written by: Amanda Gentry


Changes in Tennessee DUI Laws Class E Felony The Law Office of Amanda J GentryIt’s been just over a month since 172 new laws went into effect in Tennessee on Friday, July 1st, 2016. Among the law changes were five that aim at stricter punishment against repeat DUI offenders. Earlier this year the bill proposals for these new laws initially came to a halt in March for about two weeks, before finally being approved by the House.

After a vote of 80-7, the bill sponsored by Representative William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, was approved to implement laws that would increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders across the state, while reducing the consequences for possessing small amounts of illegal drugs. Lamberth’s bill not only focused on DUI convictions but possession of illegal drugs and carjacking.

One of the new laws passed is aimed at cracking down on six-time DUI offenders, more than doubling the jail time they could serve. The penalty under the new law will subject DUI offenders to a Class C instead of a Class E felony charge if they have six or more DUIs.

What is the difference between a Class C and a Class E felony?

If you’ve never been charged and/or convicted of a DUI, it’s possible not to understand the primary difference in these felony charge classes. Prior to the new law going into effect last month, repeat DUI offenders with four or more convictions would be charged with a Class E felony.

Under the Class E charge, offenders could be ordered to do the following:

Serve 1 year (365) days of jail time with a minimum of 150 consecutive days
Mandatory fines of $3,000 to $15,000
Participate in an alcohol and drug treatment program
License revocation for 8 years

Under the new law DUI Offenders with 6 or more convictions will be charged with a Class C felony. Offenders will be ordered to do the following:

Serve 3 years of jail time and no more than 15 years in a state prison
Mandatory fine up to $10,000

a The updated DUI laws will also require ignition interlock devices to be placed on the cars of DUI offenders if convicted. Ignition interlock systems are breathalyzers for cars, which require the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before they are able to start the car. This law will apply to all DUI offenders at their own expense.

To ensure that no one slips through the cracks of the system, the new laws will require better reporting by law enforcement agencies and for background checks. The use of background checks will now be in place to keep sixth-time offenders from being treated as though it’s their first offense.

To learn more about the new laws that have gone into effect, read our Tennessee Law Update 2016.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI in Murfreesboro, Nashville or surrounding areas and you’re in need of a DUI defense attorney, Amanda J. Gentry is ready to fight for your rights. For a legal consultation, contact the Law Office of Amanda J. Gentry at (615) 604-6263.