What Is a Felony DWI in Tennessee?

Aggravating factors that can make a drunk driving charge a felony.

Under Tennessee law, you can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of (impaired by) drugs or alcohol. Generally, DWI convictions are misdemeanors. But in certain circumstances, a DWI can be charged as a felony.

Here are some of the circumstances that can lead to felony DWI charges in Tennessee.

Fourth or Subsequent DWI Conviction Is a Felony

Typically, a first, second, or third DWI conviction is a misdemeanor in Tennessee. But when a driver has three or more prior convictions that occurred within the past ten years, the next DWI (fourth or subsequent) will be a felony.

A fourth DWI is a class E felony. Convicted motorists are looking 150 days to six years in jail and a maximum $3,000 in fines.

A fifth DWI is a class D felony. Convicted motorists face up to 12 years in jail and a maximum $5,000 in fines.

A sixth or subsequent DWI is a class C felony. A conviction carries up to 15 years in jail and a maximum $10,000 in fines.

Felony Charges for DWIs Involving Injuries and Deaths

A DWI involving serious injury to another person is "vehicular assault." A conviction is a class D felony and carries up to 12 years in jail and a maximum $5,000 in fines.

Causing the death of another person while driving under the influence is considered "vehicular homicide," a class B felony. A conviction generally carries eight to 30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

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