Tennessee Rental Car DUIs
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Being accused of drunk driving is an overwhelming situation for anyone. When the situation is complicated by a rental car, it can be almost impossible to know what to do. Contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to best protect your legal rights. At Barnes Law, our experienced Knoxville DUI attorneys work hard to defend our clients’ rights and resolve their cases as favorably as possible. Call 865-805-5703 today to schedule your free consultation.
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The consequences of a DUI can follow a defendant for years to come. By getting legal advice as soon as possible, you can best protect your constitutional rights, and give your attorney more opportunities to raise successful defenses and challenges to the charges against you. Call Barnes Law today at 865-805-5703 or contact us online. At your free consultation with one of our experienced Knoxville DUI attorneys, you will learn exactly how we plan to defend your case and protect your legal rights.
The Criminal Case
As far as the criminal case process goes, a DUI in a rental car almost the same as a DUI that occurs in a personal vehicle. On-scene processing and arrests will occur in the same way. Tennessee’s implied consent law will still require you to submit to a blood test or face the suspension of your license. If criminal charges are filed, the legal defenses available to you will be the same as if the incident occurred in a personal vehicle.
Though the criminal case process will likely be the same, a DUI in a rental car can present some other challenges. Here are some of the collateral consequences of a DUI in a rental vehicle:
Issues Related to Employment
A DUI can have a wide range of consequences for your employment. What if the DUI occurred in a company vehicle? What if the rental car was hired for a business trip? What if your job involves driving a company vehicle, and maintaining a clean driving record is a condition of your employment? These and many other circumstances can lead to discipline or even termination of your employment. Having a good defense in your criminal case can help mitigate the employment consequences of a DUI arrest.
It is also important to understand that many professional licensures can also be affected by a DUI. Doctors, nurses, lawyers, veterinarians, real estate agents, accountants, and many other professional and paraprofessional jobs require licensure by the state. Certain arrests and convictions must, by law, be reported to the licensing agency. Be sure to check to see if any reporting is required, so you do not miss this important mandate.
Problems with Car Insurance
Many insurance companies will raise your premiums drastically as a result of a DUI conviction. Insurers can, under certain circumstances, refuse to insure a person at all as the result of a DUI. Be sure that you are in compliance with state laws regarding liability insurance.
It is harder to rent vehicles after a DUI conviction.
Rental companies do check renters’ driving records before handing over the keys. Especially when a DUI occurs in a rental car, the driver will likely have a hard time renting vehicles in the future.
How the Tennessee Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights Can Apply to DUIs in Rental Vehicles
Victims of crimes that occur in Tennessee have certain legal protections under the Tennessee Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. These include:
- The right to confer with the prosecutor about their case.
- The right to be free from harassment, intimidation, and abuse throughout the criminal justice system.
- The right to be at all proceedings where the defendant has the right to be present.
- The right to be heard, when relevant, at all critical stages of the criminal justice process.
- The right to be informed of all proceedings, and of the release, transfer or escape of the accused or convicted person.
- The right to a speedy trial or disposition and a prompt and final conclusion of the case after the conviction or sentence.
- The right to restitution from the offender.
- The right to know about each of these rights established for victims.
Many of these rights are simple administrative matters (such as being advised of the proceedings against the defendant). However: the right to restitution can present complications in a case where a DUI occurs in a rental vehicle. Because insurance coverage can be a complicated matter, it is not always clear how the victims of a DUI will be compensated.
So how does restitution work in a DUI case? First, it is important to understand who is entitled to restitution. The victim of a DUI is anyone who suffered property damage or bodily injury as a result of the DUI. This could include other drivers or passengers who were injured in a DUI accident. It will also include the company that owns a rental vehicle that was damaged in a DUI accident. Even if there was no accident, the rental company might have other financial losses as the result of the DUI (such as impound charges, or lost rental fees while the vehicle was in impound). All of these expenses must be paid by the defendant.
Insurance coverage is often available to pay for these expenses. If you chose to use your own auto insurance when you rented your vehicle, that policy will likely cover injuries to victims and property damage to the rental vehicle. You might still have to pay for the impound fees and lost rental income on the vehicle (as well as administrative fees the rental company incurs in processing their vehicle). The same is true if you get a policy from the rental company. In general, it will have the same coverage as a personal auto insurance policy, and property damage and bodily injuries are likely to be covered. Any losses that are covered by insurance cannot be compensated again in a criminal restitution order.
However: if you did not have insurance coverage on the rental vehicle, you might be faced with a large restitution order. After conviction, the criminal court can order you to pay for all property damage, bodily injury, and other proven financial losses that occurred as the result of a DUI. Restitution orders are given priority in bankruptcy and collections proceedings. A large restitution order can cause devastating damage to a defendant’s finances. This is just one reason why it is so important to carry adequate insurance coverage on any vehicle you drive – owned, leased, borrowed, or rented.
These are just some of the issues involved in a rental car DUI. Please contact our office to get a more thorough evaluation of your particular situtation.
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