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Everything You Need to Know About Drunk Driving Laws in Tennessee

Drunk driving, or driving under the influence, is illegal in Tennessee, as it is in every other state. There are several Tennessee laws that pertain to DUIs, and the penalties for breaking these laws are harsh and expensive. Learn everything you need to know about drunk driving laws in Tennessee below:

Blood Alcohol Content

drunk driving person reaching for keysIn Tennessee, drivers are prohibited from operating vehicles if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is more than 0.08%. If someone is driving a commercial vehicle, their BAC cannot be more than 0.04%. If a driver is found to be over the legal limit, they can be convicted of a “per se DUI,” which is a type of conviction that doesn’t require proof the driver was actually impaired by alcohol.

For children and adults under the age of 21, there is a “no tolerance” policy. This drunk driving law in Tennessee states that if someone is under 21 and their BAC is 0.02% while driving, they can be convicted of a DUI. If someone who is 16 to 20 years old is found guilty of a DUI, they can have their license revoked for 1 year, be fined $250, and possibly be ordered to perform community service.

Implied Consent

The implied consent law applies to all Tennessee drivers. This drunk driving law states that all drivers who have been lawfully arrested for a DUI are required to submit breath, blood, and/or urine for chemical testing. If you refuse to comply, you may face suspension of your driving privileges. Here are the various levels of suspension:

  • 1st Offense: 1 Year Suspension
  • 1st Offense with an Accident Involving Injury: 2 Year Suspension
  • 1st Offense with an Accident Involving Death: 5 Year Suspension
  • 2nd Offense: 2 Year Suspension

DUI Penalties in Tennessee

drunk driving handcuffs carIf you are drunk driving in Tennessee, there are several different kinds of penalties depending on your BAC and the number of previous offenses you have committed. If it is your first offense, you could spend 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days in jail. If your BAC is more than 0.20%, then you will have to spend at least 7 days in jail. For first time offenders, you could be fined $350 to $1,500, and you could lose driving privileges for 1 year.

For second time offenders, you could spend 45 days to 11 months, 29 days in jail. You might be fined $600 to $3,500. At your second offense, your license could be revoked for 2 years. When you get your driving privileges back, you are only allowed to go to work, school, or court-ordered alcohol programs. It is possible that your vehicle could be confiscated starting with your 2nd DUI.

If there is a 3rd offense, you could receive 120 days to 11 months, 29 days in jail. Your license could be suspended for 6 to 10 years, and you might be fined $1,100 to $10,000. After this offense, you will have no possibility of getting your license back, even for necessities like work.

Enhanced Penalties

car crashIn Tennessee, there are drunk driving laws regarding enhanced penalties, most of which involve injuring someone else while driving under the influence. If you cause someone serious injury while driving under the influence, you will be charged with a Class D felony where you could possibly have to do 2 to 12 years in prison, pay a fine up to $5,000, and have 1 to 5 years of license revocation, depending on previous DUIs.

If you kill another person due to your drinking and driving, you will be charged with a Class B felony that results in 8 to 30 years in prison and being fined up to $25,000. You would also face license revocation for 3 to 10 years and no restricted driver’s license.

Another enhanced penalty for being charged with a DUI is if you kill someone else while driving drunk with at least 2 previous DUIs, vehicular assaults, or a prior vehicular homicide or one prior DUI and a BAC of 0.20%. You’ll be convicted of a Class A felony and subject to 15 to 60 years in prison and fined up to $50,000.

We want everyone to stay as safe as possible on the road, which is why we are providing information about drunk driving laws in Tennessee. However, accidents do happen because people do not follow the laws. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident and want to know what your next steps should be, contact one of our personal injury lawyers today.

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