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How Does a Reckless Driving Charge Differ from a DUI in Tennessee?

woman driving

In Tennessee, the charge of reckless driving can be a criminal offense on its own or it can be a lesser included offense for those charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs/Alcohol (DUI).  Basically, you can be charged with reckless driving for driving too fast or erratically.  Pleading guilty to the charge of reckless driving will put points on your driving record but will not necessarily suspend your driving privileges.  Reckless driving does not necessarily carry jail time either. There have been recent proposals to increase the punishment for those found guilty of reckless driving, but no changes as of March 2022.  As we mentioned above, reckless driving is also a lesser included offense for those charged with DUI in Tennessee.

For instance, in Tennessee, many individuals charged with DUI will also be charged with reckless driving on the affidavit.  The reason for charging the Defendant with both is that he/she was possibly driving under the influence while also operating his/her vehicle in a dangerous manner.  Whether one pleads guilty to reckless driving or DUI will make a drastic difference in the punishment and sentence.

As noted, reckless driving does not necessarily carry jail time or a mandatory suspension of driving privileges whereas a conviction for DUI in Tennessee does.  A first offense DUI conviction in Tennessee carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 48 hours in jail, 11 months 29 days probation, one-year license suspension, and fines.  The minimum DUI sentence can be increased depending on other factors such as previous convictions or extreme impairment.

Having the right criminal legal representation can mean the difference between pleading to reckless driving or a DUI. There are instances where the prosecutor will agree to dismiss the DUI charge if a defendant agrees to plead guilty to the lesser charge of reckless driving.  There are many reasons for being offered a plea agreement to a lesser offense, including faulty field sobriety tests, improper or illegal stop, or low blood alcohol test results.

The Chiozza Law Firm has years of courtroom experience, handling all types of felony and misdemeanor charges. Our Memphis courtroom experience involves Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Theft of Property, Driving While License Suspended, Passing Bad Checks, drug-related offenses (including possession charges), Assault and many other crimes.  If we are successful in obtaining a dismissal, we also handle the expungement process which will clear all charges from your public record.

Hiring a Memphis criminal defense attorney is an important decision that should not be made with interviewing multiple attorneys. Simply call 1(901)526-9494 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our criminal defense team.  You may also email criminal defense attorney Brian Chiozza, brian@chiozzalaw.com, or fill out an online form here.


The Chiozza Law firm has years of courtroom experience in handling all types of misdemeanor and felony charges, including driving offenses, drug charges, theft of property, passing bad checks, and many other felony matters.   

For more, visit The Chiozza Law Firm, on Facebook and Twitter, or

www.901Law.com, the Memphis Law Firm for all your legal needs!


This Blog/Website is made available by the Lawyer or Law Firm Publisher for educational purposes only, as well as to give you information and a general understanding of the law. It is not to provide you with specific legal advice. By reading this blog, you understand there is no attorney/client relationship between you and the Blog/Website publisher. The Blog/Website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Posted by Brian Chiozza at 2:25 PM
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