A lot of factors can contribute to a serious motor vehicle accident. Both drivers may have made mistakes on the road. There could be weather issues or even medical conditions that contribute to a crash. While they are tragic, fatal crashes happen every day around the country and here in Tennessee. Sometimes, drivers also face driving under the influence (DUI) charges in addition to charges stemming from damages and injuries caused in the accident. If there was a fatality and you are also charged with a DUI, you could be facing very steep penalties for the accident.
There are a number of things that could contribute to false charges of a DUI after a crash. Perhaps you sustained a head injury that caused symptoms similar to intoxication. Slurred speech and problems with balance can result from head trauma. Similarly, other medical conditions, like undiagnosed diabetes, could result in symptoms that look a lot like alcohol intoxication. If you or someone you love has been involved in a fatal car crash that allegedly involved alcohol, you need to speak with an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Vehicular homicide is a serious offense
Even a DUI on its own can wreak havoc on your life. A first time DUI charge in Tennessee carries at least two days but perhaps nearly a year in jail, as well as roughly $4,900 in fees, fines and penalties. You could even lose your license for a year. If you get accused of a DUI offense in a fatal car accident with a reported blood alcohol content of between 0.08 percent and 0.20 percent, those penalties become very steep. The courts call this offense vehicular homicide, and a conviction could result in loss of your license for between three and ten years, as well as a prison sentence of between eight and 30 years in jail.
For those was a BAC of 0.20 percent or greater, the charges get increased to Aggravated Vehicular Assault While Driving Intoxicated, which is a Class A felony. This offense carries between 15 and 60 years in prison, as well as a fine of as much as $50,000. Those with a lower BAC may also face Aggravated Vehicular Assault While Driving Intoxicated if they had two previous DUI or vehicular assault convictions on record. A previous vehicular homicide conviction will also result in increased charges.
An attorney can help develop a defense
Deciding to take a plea deal or speak with law enforcement without an attorney after a major crash is a mistake. You should ask for legal counsel as soon as possible. An experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney can help you determine what legal options are available after a serious fatal crash. Your lawyer will help explore medical issues or problems with the breath test that could have resulted in false positives, as well as other options for defense.