One of the most common concerns about DUI convictions is how long they will remain on your criminal record. Unfortunately, DUIs stay on your record for life. Depending on your situation, however, you may be protected against severe penalties for subsequent offenses under Tennessee’s 10-year lookback period and may also be eligible for expungement. Keep reading to learn about Tennessee’s DUI and expungement laws.
Tennessee’s DUI Lookback Period
If you are concerned about a prior DUI conviction on your record affecting future DUIs you might be convicted for, you have some leeway. While a DUI stays on your record for life, DUI convictions have a lookback period of 10 years. This means any DUI offense that occurs more than 10 years after a previous conviction will be treated like a first-time offense.
With that said, if you're convicted of a second DUI within 10 years of the first, your penalties will increase and could include the following:
- between 45 days and 11 months, 29 days in jail;
- $600 to $3,500 in fines;
- license revocation for 2 years;
- forfeiture of vehicle if the previous conviction was within 5 years; and
- ignition interlock device on your vehicle for 6 months after license reinstatement.
A third DUI within 10 years could result in a combination of the following penalties:
- between 120 days and 11 months, 29 days in jail;
- $1,100 to $10,000 in fines;
- license revocation for 6 years;
- forfeiture of vehicle if one of the previous convictions was within 5 years;
- ignition interlock device on your vehicle for 6 months after license reinstatement; and
- restitution and costs.
Expunging Your DUI
Tennessee law establishes that criminal charges that do not result in a conviction can be expunged regardless of the offense. So, if you have a DUI charge that did not lead to a conviction, you could essentially expunge it from your record.
The most common case with DUI expungements is DUI convictions being reduced to lesser offenses, such as Reckless Driving or Reckless Endangerment, which are both eligible to be expunged after 5 years.
In fact, a reduced guilty plea to the offense of Reckless Driving or Reckless Endangerment is one of the most common results for first-time DUI offenders, so if you find yourself charged for a first-time DUI, this might be an effective defense to argue. An experienced attorney can represent you in this case, and it might be in your best interests to seek legal counsel to reduce your DUI charge.
On the note of DUI charges, many people who are arrested for DUI are also charged with violating Implied Consent laws during the initial DUI stop. It is often the case that if a person is convicted of a DUI, their Implied Consent charge (if a violation occurs) may be dismissed and thus eligible to be expunged under Tennessee law. So, you also have the option of expunging an Implied Consent violation even if you cannot expunge a DUI conviction.
The Benefits of Legal Representation
If you have been charged with a DUI, an effective defense against a first-time conviction could erase the offense from your record. However, if you are unable to reduce a first-time DUI charge to a lesser offense, the conviction will stay on your record for life. You do have some protections against future DUI convictions through Tennessee’s lookback period, but you nonetheless risk having a DUI on your criminal record without a guaranteed possibility for expungement. An experienced attorney at Eldridge & Blakney can assess your situation and provide you with legal advice on next steps in your DUI case.
For more information, speak with the legal team at Eldridge & Blakney today.