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Exploring Life After being Arrested for DUI

By Cyndi Lundeberg
By clundeberg@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. – The Tennessee Highway Patrol said that during the Christmas and New Years holiday period, there is an increase in drinking and driving.

Experts said that is because the holidays are a time of parties and gatherings but the THP and Madison County law enforcement officials suggest residents think twice before getting behind the wheel if you have been drinking.

Officals said the minute a driver is convicted of driving under the influence, their life changes dramatically. "It's a matter of changing your life completely... it's a process that takes several years to get your life back to normal," says THP Sgt. Max Milam.

After being jailed for a minimum of 12 hours, if convicted of driving under the influence, your license will be revoked for at least a year.

Besides having a suspended license, convicted persons can face a variety of other consequences. "After being convicted of a DUI you are required to do three eight hour shifts in coveralls saying 'I am a drunk driver'," says Joe Byrd, Jr., an attorney with the firm Byrd and Byrd.

Byrd said he has dealt with thousands of DUI cases. He believes that people are not fully aware of what comes with a conviction.

"It can affect your job keeping your job and your ability to get a job. This is not, nor is it ever a good time, to be looking for a job. You may not find one."

Furthermore, he said that people who get a DUI while they have a car loan may have their vehicle repossessed. People able to get their automobile back may have new restrictions on its use.

Tennessee residents convicted of a DUI could be required by a judge to have a Smart Start Device placed in their car. The device requires the driver to blow into it to start the vehicle and is required after driving for a period of time as well.

Chris Trevathan, owner of C.A.R.S. in Mckenzie, said he installs these devices regularly. "I install about 20 a month probably install a couple hundred a year," he said. Trevathan said the device can be quite costly. Drivers are required to not only pay for the installation of the device but Smart Start costs convicted drivers $99 a month for up to five years.

In total with lawyers, court fines, increased insurance and other costs a DUI can run upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.

Byrd said attorneys who see people with multiple DUIs on their record become nervous for the safety of their family out on the roads. The lawyer can decide to not as worried about protecting the client.

He said he tells people with multiple DUIs "Whether you think you have a problem or not, it’s time to get rehabilitated or you're going to die."

The message the Tennessee Highway Patrol wanted to send residents this holiday season is if you're going to drink, don't drive. If you are drinking, they advise that you do not leave your home.

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