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The Legal Ramifications of Drug Use

Drug use may result in jail time

There are many state and federal laws surrounding the use or possession of certain illegal substances in Tennessee. Penalties for breaking certain laws can range anywhere from misdemeanor offenses with a small fee to serious felony charges with jail time and extensive fees. Common drugs and their Tennessee state and federal laws include the following:

  • State penalties for alcohol use while driving – There are certain laws that make it illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The state of Tennessee requires a driver to have at least a .08 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) to be charged with a DUI. There is a zero tolerance policy for drivers who are under the age of 21. Drivers who register a .20 or above BAC can be charged with an aggravated offense that has more severe penalties. The penalties for a DUI can include between 1 and 3 years of license suspension, depending on the number of offenses, mandatory alcohol education and treatment, vehicle confiscation on the second offense and the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID).  An IID can be installed in an offender’s vehicle, which prevents him or her from starting the vehicle if the presence of alcohol is detected on the breath.
  • Federal penalties for alcohol use while driving – Federal laws surrounding a DUI charge can include penalties of jail time and up to a $5,000 fine for a felony charge.
  • State penalties for marijuana – There are different classes of charges surrounding marijuana, depending on possession or sale in the state of Tennessee. Possession of less than .5 ounces of the substance can constitute a Class A misdemeanor charge accompanied by drug offender school and a minimum $250 fine. Giving marijuana to a minor can result in a minimum $750 fine and a Class E felony charge if there have been two or more prior offenses.  Possession of 20 to 99 plants of marijuana can result in a Class C felony charge and up to a $100,000 fine. Selling marijuana can result in charges ranging from a Class E felony with a $5,000 fine up to a Class A felony with a $500,000 fine, depending on the quantity sold. The Class E felony and $5,000 dollar fine can be reached just by selling .5 ounces of marijuana.
  • Federal penalties for marijuana – Minimum federal penalties for marijuana possession can include no more than 5 years in prison with a fine up to $250,000. Maximum penalties can include no less than 10 years in prison with a $4 million fine, depending on the quantity possessed.

There are many other illegal substances that can contract even more severe penalties for use, possession and sale. Considering the legal ramifications of drug use is essential to avoiding these serious consequences.

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