Tennessee DUI 101

Tennessee DUI laws are in place to keep drunk drivers off the road, and the public safe, in the Volunteer State.

Tennessee DUI Laws

According to Tennessee DUI laws, a driver over the age of 21 who has a blood alcohol concentration that matches or exceeds .08 percent is guilty of drunk driving. Persons under 21 years of age should not have a blood alcohol level of above .02 while operating a vehicle. Commercial drivers, including bus drivers, must not exceed a blood alcohol level of .04.

Tennessee DUI Penalties

First-time offenders of Tennessee DUI laws can receive up to 11 months and 29 days of imprisonment. A drunk driver may also lose their license for up to a year. In addition to a fine ranging from $350 to $1,500, the driver is also responsible for paying restitution to any individuals affected by the incident as well as the court costs, towing costs and additional fees. The judge can also force you to install a vehicle ignition interlock device in your car, which may cost roughly $810 for the first year.

A second-time offender may face up to another year in jail; however, this time, the accompanying fine will range from $600 to $3,500. A license revocation period of up to two years is also possible, with a restricted license available after the first year. The driver’s vehicle may be seized, and once again the drunk driver is responsible for restitution for any motorists, passengers or pedestrians affected by the incident.

A third-time offender will be in jail for up to another year. A fine ranging from $1,100 to $10,000 will be enforced, as well as a license revocation period ranging from three to 10 years without the possibility of a restricted license. The usual restitution penalties, vehicle ignition interlock device fee and car impoundment process will also apply.

A fourth offense is a Class E Felony, which comes with a year in jail, a $3,000 to $15,000 fine, license revocation for five years and the usual restitution fees and ignition interlock device and vehicle seizure penalties.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, additional penalties may apply. For example, serious injury to another individual can be considered a Class D Felony and result in two to 12 years of jail time. If a child under the age of 13 dies due to the incident, the drunk driver faces a Class C Felony.

Restricted Licenses

Depending on the judge’s ruling, it may be possible for a DUI offender to obtain a restricted license in Tennessee. In order to obtain this license, which allows the offending driver conditional use of a vehicle, the driver must show proof of liability insurance, file a SR-22 form, retake the driver license exam and pay a fee of $67. Multiple DUI offenses will disqualify a driver from the privilege of a restricted license. For more information on restricted licenses, visit the Tennessee Government website.

Tennessee DUI Programs

A judge may rule that a DUI offender must attend a DUI program. The prices and costs of these programs will vary. For example, the DUI Academy of East Tennessee, Inc. offers 12-hour classes for $125, while the Life Savers of Tennessee program has a tuition fee of $150. Visit the Tennessee Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services website to search for programs that will help you satisfy the conditions of your Tennessee DUI penalty.