Drunk drivers continue to cause car accidents and serious injuries to others across the country. Just in Knox County alone, there were 342 drunk driving accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that in 2018 there were 10,511 deaths due to accidents caused by drunk drivers.
To help combat the battle against intoxicated driving in the state – especially for repeat offenders - Tennessee has implemented stiffer DUI laws that especially impact repeat offenders.
Could these updated laws also help strengthen the claims of victims pursuing compensation against drunk drivers for the losses and injuries they sustained?
Greg Coleman Law discusses Tennessee's DUI laws, including how they may impact your car accident claim against an alcohol-impaired driver. Contact our firm to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys to learn more about your potential legal options.
Stiffer Tennessee DUI Laws
Tennessee has strict DUI laws that recently became even tougher, and not just for repeat offenders.
DUI – First Offense
As a first-time offender, many people might expect a lenient slap on the wrist, but even someone who has no prior record of a DUI can cause a serious or fatal car crash. Therefore, first-time DUI offenders in the state can expect:
- Minimum of 48 hours in jail – mandatory for the state
- An additional 11 months, 29 days (suspended sentence)
- Supervised probation – also 11 months, 29 days
- Fines of $350, as well as your court costs
- Up to 24 hours of community service
- You may also lose your driver’s license for a year and be required to attend alcohol safety school
- Installation of an Ignition interlock device on your vehicle (for BAC greater than .20)
- Fingerprints of the offender may be taken and placed on file with the National Crime Information Center
In accidents that caused serious or fatal injuries, drunk drivers can expect much harsher penalties. Additionally, even a one-time DUI remains on your record for 10 years. People with a DUI on their record may find it difficult to get a job and will also have to pay higher insurance rates.
One of the worst repeat DUI offenders in Tennessee, according to an article in Fox 17 News was arrested 19 times for a DUI. This will be almost impossible to happen under the new laws. Repeat DUI offenders under the new law can expect to receive up to 15 years in jail – and be required to fully serve that time. Last year, the state added a fifth DUI offense and mandated that those convicted a seventh time be required to serve 100 percent of the state’s maximum sentence.
Could New DUI Laws Help Your Claim?
These strict DUI laws may help reduce the number of drunk driving accidents, but if you become a victim of an alcohol-impaired driver, will these laws help your claim? The answer is maybe – if the driver is charged with a DUI. In those cases, whether the driver is a first-time or a repeat offender, it shows a violation of his or her duty of care to you and others on the road.
Calling police to the scene after an accident with someone you suspect was driving drunk – or after any accident – is important. Once an officer gets to the scene of the crash, he or she will likely perform a field sobriety test or require a blood test to determine whether that driver’s BAC was beyond the legal limit.
If a field test is not done, it is important to provide a statement of your suspicious and to see if there were any other credible eyewitnesses who may be able to support your statement. There may be other witnesses who may have seen that individual get into his or her car and drive away after leaving a party, bar or other event.
In short, if the driver is charged with alcohol-impaired driving, then it may help to strengthen a legal claim if you are attempting to recover compensation for your medical costs, lost wages and other losses.
It is important to mention that if you contributed to the accident, you are still responsible for your portion of liability.
Your Rights Following a Crash Caused by a Drunk Driver
Under state law, if you are injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver, you may be eligible to pursue compensation through that driver’s car insurance policy – or you may also be able to sue that driver personally. The types of damages you may be able to recover may include:
- Lost wages if you were unable to work until your injuries healed
- Medical costs associated with your injuries
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
In Tennessee, some cases may be so egregious in nature that judges and juries may award punitive damages. This type of compensation, unlike other damages awarded, are not designed to reimburse victims for their damages, but rather to punish a wrongdoer – such as repeat DUI offender. These damages may be awarded in addition to other forms of compensation you may be eligible to recover.
We Are Prepared to Help Victims Injured in DUI Crashes
At Greg Coleman Law, we have been representing injured victims throughout the state for decades, and we have a proven history, recovering millions in compensation for our clients.
We are prepared to help you after suffering injuries in an accident caused by a reckless or negligent driver, including those impaired by alcohol.
Our experienced car accident attorneys in Knoxville are dedicated to fighting for maximum compensation and holding at-fault parties accountable for their actions.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may contact our firm to schedule a free initial consultation. This meeting carries no obligation to you, but you can learn if you may have legal actions and get answers to your questions. We charge no upfront costs to represent you and do not collect our fees until your case concludes, so there is no risk to you.
Experienced Lawyers. No Upfront Costs. (865) 247-0080