It may be said that drunk driving incidents can fall into two broad types: those in which no one is injured and those that result in physical harm. The latter category triggers application of Tennessee vehicular assault laws.
If you are the driver in a car accident in which another person is injured or dies, Tennessee law can impose severe consequences on you. This post does not cover all the details of how vehicular assault laws apply to each individual situation and should not be taken as legal advice. If you are charged with vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, you should consult with an experienced Tennessee criminal defense law firm as soon as possible.
Vehicular assault is an aggravated form of DUI in this state. The driver has violated the law as it relates to DUI, and there are aggravating circumstance, such as the injury to another person, that leads to additional punishment. Tennessee has three kinds of laws that relate to vehicular assault:
- Standard vehicular assault: This applies when someone else is seriously injured by a drunk driver. Penalties include prison time ranging from 2 to 12 years, license suspension of 1 to 5 years plus monetary liability for court costs and fines. Vehicular assault is a Class D felony.
- Vehicular homicide: This Class B felony, although not officially referred to as a form of â€œvehicular assault,â€ relates to a driver with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more, and the physical harm to the other person results in death. Prison time ranges from 8 to 30 years and a fine of up to $25,000. Penalties include a 3- to 10-year license revocation.
- Aggravated vehicular assault while driving intoxicated: This crime happens when a vehicular assault occurs in combination with other concurrent or past violations, such as two or more earlier DUI or vehicular assault convictions, or a prior vehicular homicide conviction, or the commission of a vehicular homicide when there is a prior DUI conviction and the driverâ€™s BAC at the time of the vehicular homicide is .20 percent or more. Aggravated vehicular assault while driving intoxicated is a Class A felony punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000.
Note that for both vehicular assault and vehicular homicide, it is not possible to obtain a restricted driverâ€™s license during the license revocation period.