What do I wear to court?

I am commonly asked by Nashville DUI and criminal defense client’s what they should wear to court. I tell all client’s that it is better to be “over-dressed” than “under-dressed” and suggest they wear something along the lines of what would be considered business casual dress or nicer. For most court appearances, I advise men to wear a collared shirt, slacks (not jeans) and leather shoes. A coat and/or tie is good but not necessary for most court appearances. There are some court appearances where I do recommend coat and tie. I advise the equivalent of this dress for women – conservative skirt or pants, non-athletic shoes and conservative top. It is also important to note that most courts have dress codes. Here are links to the Davidson County General Sessions and Criminal Court Dress Code Policies.

Where Can I Find Out How To Reinstate My Tennessee Drivers License That Has Been Revoked Or Suspended?

Reinstating a license can be an expensive and complicated process depending on the reason(s) for your suspension.  It often involves clearing hurdles with both local and state offices. The best place to start is on the Department of Safety’s website where you can enter your license information and receive a summary of what their records show you need to do.  (Note, you can proceed through the menu of options to print out a list of the requirements to reinstate your license without paying any fees up front.)

If you or someone you know has lost their license and have questions regarding reinstatement laws in Tennessee, contact Criminal Attorney Russell Thomas at 615-620-0891.  Let him help answer your questions.

Where Can I Get An Ignition Interlock Device Installed In My Car?

If you are court ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your car, you must use a state certified provider.  For a link to a directory of all certified providers in the state, click here. If you or someone you know has recently received a DUI and has questions regarding possible implications, contact Attorney Russell Thomas at 615-620-0891 for a free consultation.

What Is An Alcohol And Drug Safety DUI School?

This is a 16 hour state-certified program required of all people convicted of a Tennessee DUI.  This is a separate requirement from a victim impact panel. There are various certified providers throughout the state, but if you were convicted of a Nashville DUI, you will likely be required to attend the one administered by the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department.  To find information about that school, click here.  To search for other Tennessee DUI schools, click here.

Have you recently been convicted of a DUI in Tennessee and have questions regarding upcoming requirements?  If so, contact Attorney Russell Thomas at 615-620-0891 for a free consultation.

What Is A Victim Impact Panel?

The requirement to attend a victim impact panel is a common condition of a sentence in a Nashville DUI case.  These are usually produced by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and are offered periodically at various locations in Nashville and throughout Tennessee. The program consists of a panel presentation by crime victims telling personal stories of how they were affected by impaired driving accidents.  For more information including fees, times and locations of classes, visit MADD's Website for more information.

Have you recently received a sentence after a DUI case in Tennessee and have questions regarding the conditions of the sentence?  If so, contact Attorney Russell Thomas at 615-620-0891 for a free consultation.

What Are The Penalties For Driving On A Cancelled, Suspended or Revoked License?

A person convicted for driving while their license is canceled, suspended or revoked is guilty of a class B misdemeanor in Tennessee. This means they face a sentence of up to six months, a fine of up to $500, or both. Absent any aggravating factors, there is no mandatory minimum jail time meaning that a person could receive a purely suspended or probated sentence. However, if the license was canceled, suspended or revoked because of a prior DUI, vehicular homicide or vehicular assault, the punishment must include at least two days of jail time and the fine could go up to $1000. If the person has been court ordered to maintain an ignition interlock device in their car and was caught driving without it, there is a mandatory minimum seven days of jail sentence.

If a person has a prior conviction for driving on a canceled, suspended or revoked license the penalty increases. Upon conviction with a prior, the person would now be guilty of a class A misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days, and an increased fine up to $3000.

If the person's license is canceled, suspended or revoked because of a second or subsequent DUI, vehicular homicide or vehicular assault, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 days to serve in jail.

If you or someone you know has recently been arrested for driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license, and has questions regarding the upcoming legal proceedings, contact Nashville Attorney Russell Thomas at 615-620-0891 for a free consultation.

What Is The Punishment For Underage DWI In Tennessee?

Important Update. The Law in Tennessee has recently changed regarding this statute. Stay tuned for an updated entry on the new law.

If someone under the age of 21 is convicted for DWI in Tennessee, they face a fine, possible community service work, and a one-year license revocation. Someone charged with DWI in Tennessee may qualify for a pretrial diversion program, which might allow them to resolve their case without having a permanent conviction entered against them and with the opportunity to have that charge expunged.

It is important to note, however, that persons under 21 may also be charged with DUI in Tennessee and face the same punishments as those over 21.

Have you recently been charged with underage DWI in Tennessee and are concerned about the legal proceedings?  If so, call Attorney Russell Thomas at 615-620-0891 for answers to any questions you may have.

What Is The Difference Between DUI And DWI In Tennessee?

For many years, Tennessee recognized separate crimes of driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI). DWI was considered a less serious offense and carried less punishment than DUI. DWI was not punishable by jail time, carried no probationary period or any other punishment other than fine and license suspension. Several years ago the Tennessee legislature abolished the offense of DWI for persons over the age of 21.

If you or someone you know has recently received a DUI or DWI in Tennessee and has questions regarding the possible legal implications, contact Nashville Criminal Lawyer Russell Thomas at 615-620-0891 for a free consultation.

Please note this original post was updated in 2016 to reflect a change in the law since the original posting.

If A Probation Violation Has Been Filed Against Me, Do I Still Need To Report To My Probation Officer?

Yes, since you still are on probation unless and until a Judge tells you otherwise.  And, if your probation officer has specifically asked you to continue reporting and do anything else, you need to do it.  If you fail to report now, your probation officer could file an amended warrant and add an additional failure to report if you miss a meeting. If a probation violation warrant has been filed against you, the court needs to decide two things.  One, the Judge decides whether you did in fact violate your probation.  Two, if you did violate your probation, the Judge decides the appropriate punishment.  The Court could then give you another chance and reinstate your probation, make you serve out your entire sentence, or anything in between.  The Court could also extend your probation.

Judges usually consider how you have been doing on probation and how serious the violations are when deciding the punishment.  For example, a Judge may weigh a new arrest more seriously than being behind on paying fines and court costs.  Or, a Judge may consider you reporting a few days late less serious than not reporting for a couple of months.  The Judge can find you in violation for breaking any of the rules of probation, and has broad discretion on imposing a punishment. However, the above mentioned things are often considered.

Are you having difficulties with your probation or believe you may have accidentally violated your probation?  If so, contact the Law Office of Russell Thomas at 615-620-0891 for the answers you need.

What Is A “Discussion” Court Date?

If the case is in Nashville, a “discussion” court setting is usually a court date at which the lawyers on both sides are expected to discuss the case – particularly the possibility and terms of settlement. There are usually no other motions or hearings of any sort on a discussion date. If a settlement is reached that involves a guilty plea, the judge could take that plea on a discussion date. If you are involved in a criminal court case and would like to talk with a professional about how to best handle your case, feel free to call Nashville Attorney Russell Thomas at 615-620-0891.  He will help you navigate the sometimes difficult legal waters.