Knox County District Attorney General - Charme P. Allen

Drunk Driver Claims She was Hit by a Parked Car, Jury Disagrees

Posted: 12/13/2018

Prosecutors in DA Charme Allen’s DUI Unit obtained convictions against an impaired driver who struck several parked cars and later claimed that the parked cars struck her.  Vanessa Elizabeth Helfant, 38, was convicted of Driving Under the Influence.  Judge Steve Sword set the case for sentencing on February 7.

At trial, Assistant District Attorney Heather Good explained to the jury that on March 25, 2017, around 10:30 PM, Knoxville Police Department Officer Jajuan Hamilton responded to a 911 call about an impaired driver who struck multiple parked cars on Beaumont Avenue before fleeing the scene.  Bystanders followed the car to 2310 Sun Valley Road, where Helfant parked and walked inside.  Officers knocked on the door to make contact with Helfant, who then called 911 because people were knocking on her door.  She was eventually taken into custody and admitted drinking half a pint of vodka and smoking half a marijuana blunt.

“This outlandish situation shows how dangerous impaired drivers are to this community,” said DA Charme Allen.

Since this is a DUI First Offense, Helfant faces a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days with a minimum of forty-eight hours in jail.  Her license will be suspended for one year, and she must complete DUI school and pay a $350 fine.  At the sentencing hearing in February, Judge Sword will determine how much of the sentence Helfant must serve in custody.

If you have any questions, please contact Sean McDermott at 865-215-2515 or  For more information about the District Attorney’s Office, visit our website at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.



City County Building 400 Main Street
Suite 168
Knoxville, TN 37902