Sunday, May 26, 2024

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Possession of a Handgun While Under the Influence of an Intoxicant

Gun and Alcohol
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Many of our clients are unaware that there is a separate criminal offenses in Tennessee when one is in possession of a handgun while under the influence. T.C.A. § 39-17-1321(a). This means that one may be charged with and convicted of both DUI and Possession of a Handgun While Under the Influence of an Intoxicant. Notwithstanding whether a person has been issued a handgun permit or is otherwise permitted to carry a handgun, it is an offense in Tennessee for that person to possess a handgun while under the influence of alcohol, any controlled substance or controlled substance analogue.

Interestingly, the statutory language seems to indicate that while possession of a handgun is prohibited, no such prohibition exists for other firearms. A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor, the same as a first offense DUI. A Class A misdemeanor has, among other penalties, a jail sentence of up to 11 months, 29 days and up to a $2,500 fine.

Moreover, some otherwise available defenses such as possessing or carrying the weapon at the defendant’s place of residence, place of business, or premises may not be properly asserted as a defense to a prosecution for possession of a handgun while under the influence. Again, this emphasizes the importance of hiring a knowledgeable, experienced criminal defense lawyer to assist in these types of cases.


About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants. Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD). Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve has served as Dean of the NCDD and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee.

He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 9th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen).  Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions.  He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and seven foreign countries.  After being named a Fulbright Scholar, Steve was honored to teach as a Visiting Professor at the University of Latvia Law School in the capital city of Riga, Latvia during the Spring Semester of 2019.  During the Spring Semester of 2023, Steve taught as a Visiting Professor at Eötvös Loránd University Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary. If you would like to contact the author, please visit his website at www.tndui.com.

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Steve Oberman

Steve Oberman

Since graduating from the University of Tennessee Law School in 1980, Mr. Oberman has become established as a national authority on the intricacies of DUI defense law. Steve is a former Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, co-author of a national treatise ("Drunk Driving Defense" published by Aspen/Wolters-Kluwer), and author of "DUI: The Crime and Consequences in Tennessee" (published by Thomson-Reuters/West). He has taught thousands of lawyers, judges, and members of the general public about the intricacies of this crime. Steve was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach American Criminal Law and American Trial Advocacy at the University of Latvia School of Law in 2019; in 2023 taught for a semester as a visiting professor at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary; and as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Law in 2024. Steve has also presented at a number of judicial conferences in the United States and Canada as well as for law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Czech Republic Police Academy. As a Tennessee DUI attorney, Mr. Oberman has successfully defended over two thousand clients charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In 2006, Mr. Oberman became the first DUI lawyer in Tennessee to be recognized by the National College for DUI Defense as a Board Certified Specialist in the area of DUI Defense law.

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