You Can Face Charges in TN If You Loan Your Car to a Drunk Driver

You may think that you are doing your friend a favor when you lend out your car to them, but the consequences of lending your car to someone who is under the influence can be severe, thanks to a new law that went  into effect this July. It is crucial for car owners to be cautious and responsible when loaning their vehicles, not only ensuring they are not inadvertently contributing to dangerous behavior on the roads, but also that they themselves will not be penalized for any crimes the drunk person may commit if they were to be behind the wheel. By understanding the implications of this law, individuals can make more informed decisions and prioritize safety when it comes to lending their vehicles to others.

What is the Silas Gable Flatt Law?

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee recently signed the “Silas Gable Flatt Law,” named in honor of an unborn baby who lost his life in a head-on crash caused by a drunk driver. According to Tennessee House Bill 1198, The “Silas Gable Flatt Law” makes it illegal for someone to knowingly lend their car to another person who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any substances that impair driving ability. It is also an offense to lend a vehicle to someone whose driver’s license has been suspended or revoked, unless they have a restricted driver’s license and are using the car for permitted purposes under the court order.

What are the penalties for violating the new law?

Violating this law is considered a Class A misdemeanor, and the penalties include:

  • First offense. First offenses include a minimum of 48 hours in jail.
  • Second offense. For a second offense, the minimum jail time is 72 hours,
  • Third offense. A third or subsequent offense is punishable by a minimum of seven consecutive days in jail.

This law will be effective from July 1, 2023, to ensure public safety and prevent dangerous situations on the roads.

What are the penalties if I am caught driving under the influence?

In Tennessee, no matter whose car you are driving, the penalties for a DUI conviction vary based on the number of prior offenses and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). For a first offense, you may face 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days in county jail or workhouse. However, if your BAC was .20 or higher, the minimum sentence increases to seven consecutive days. Your license will be revoked for one year, but you might be eligible for a restricted license. Participation in an alcohol and drug treatment program may also be required, and you may need to pay restitution for any injuries or losses caused. The fine can range from $350 to $1,500.

For a second offense, the penalties become more severe. You could be imprisoned for 45 consecutive days to 11 months and 29 days. The fine increases to between $600 and $3,500, and your license will be revoked for two years. Your vehicle may also be subject to seizure or forfeiture. If you have two DUI convictions within a five-year period, you’ll need to use and pay for an ignition interlock device (IID) for six months.

Tennessee also offers recovery courts for non-violent individuals with substance abuse disorders, providing an alternative option for handling DUI charges in a judicially supervised setting. It’s essential to understand these consequences and seek legal representation to navigate through the complexities of DUI cases effectively.

What are the penalties if I am caught driving without a license?

According to TN Code § 55-50-301 (2021), “no person… shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless the person has a valid driver license under this chapter for the type or class of vehicle being driven.”

Car Insurance Online notes that the penalties for driving without a license in Tennessee include:

  • (Non-Resident) Class B Misdemeanor. Imprisonment for not more than 6 months, fine of no more than $500, or both.
  • (Resident) (First Offense) Class B Misdemeanor. Imprisonment for not more than 6 months, fine of no more than $500, or both; license suspension increased by like period of time.
  • (Resident) (Subsequent Offense) Class A Misdemeanor. Imprisonment for not more than 11 months, 29 days, fine of no more than $2,500, or both; license suspension increased by like period of time.

So, under the new law, if one of your friends lends you their vehicle, and you are arrested for either driving without a license or driving under the influence, not only is it likely that you will be penalized, but the friend who lent you the car will also face consequences.

How can a Franklin criminal defense attorney help?

At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we understand that being charged with a crime can be a distressing and overwhelming experience. If you find yourself facing charges for lending your car to a drunk friend under the new Silas Gable Flatt law in Tennessee, our experienced Franklin criminal defense attorneys are here to help you navigate through the legal process.

When you consult with us, we will carefully review the details of your case and work tirelessly to build a strong defense on your behalf. We will analyze the evidence, investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident, and explore all possible defenses to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome. Our goal is to challenge the prosecutor’s allegations and prevent unnecessarily enhanced charges by arguing against any aggravating factors they may present.

We know that you were simply trying to do your friend a favor and could not have anticipated their impaired state. Our legal team will work to demonstrate that you did not knowingly provide the vehicle to someone under the influence and that you had no reason to believe your friend would drive under such conditions. With our knowledge and dedication, we aim to secure the most favorable result for you, protecting your reputation, freedom, and future.

Facing criminal charges is serious, but you don’t have to face them alone. Contact our Franklin law firm today for an initial consultation by calling us or using our contact form, and let us help you navigate the complexities of the legal system and protect your rights throughout the process. We also have additional offices in Brentwood and Columbia.