If you have been following our blog, you know that there are serious repercussions that accompany the charges of driving under the influence. In addition to fines, jail time and license suspension, those arrested also need to attend an alcohol treatment program and install an alcohol monitoring device in their cars.

As of July 1, new legislation has increased penalties, added documentation requirements and lengthened the time period for alcohol monitoring.

1. New penalties

Previous to the new legislation, those charged with DUI convictions after the third offense could have been given a jail sentence ranging from one to six years. The E felony classification and its accompanying penalty were assigned to any DUI conviction following the third offense. The punishments remained the same even if an individual received seven or eight DUI convictions.

New regulations change the class of felony for those convicted of a sixth offense. According to District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway, “A conviction for a sixth offense DUI means that someone would have two prior felonies on his or her record for fourth or fifth DUI convictions. Those prior convictions would give that person a persistent offender status.” With this status on record, individuals face sentences that are more severe than before. For example, those charged with a C felony could be imprisoned for anywhere from three to 15 years.

2. More documentation

In order to strengthen the criminal database, law enforcement officers are now required to fingerprint those charged with certain crimes and submit the report to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation within a week. Anyone receiving charges of DUI, vehicular assault, vehicular homicide or aggravated vehicular homicide must have their fingerprints on file with the state. Such documentation will be made available to officers in patrol cars and at police stations throughout the country.

3. Lengthened alcohol monitoring

While Tennessee law has required the installation of ignition interlock devices in cars driven by those convicted of a DUI since 2013, new laws extend the time period that the device must be used in the car. After 120 days absent drinking, the offender may have the ignition interlock device removed.

With the new laws in effect, those convicted of DUI face stiff penalties in Tennessee. It is for this reason that those facing DUI charges should seek advice of a knowledgeable attorney to determine the best course of action.