Tennessee DUI Laws
While it is common knowledge that driving your motor vehicle and being impaired by alcohol or drugs is dangerous to yourself, your passengers, and other motorists, at what point does it become a crime? In Tennessee, as in other states, drinking alcohol and driving is illegal if you are under the influence (DUI) at the time of driving. You can also be in violation of the law if you have drunk so much alcohol that your blood alcohol level (BAC) is at a 0.08 percent or more at the time of driving. And the law is the same in both Nashville and Knoxville – the law is the same throughout the “Volunteer State.”
While it is difficult to determine the exact number of drinks it takes to get a person to the "legal limit", the best answer is to always have a sober driver with you or call a cab or ride share service. Here’s a useful guide to Tennessee DUI laws.
First-Time Tennessee DUI
If this is your first time being charged with a DUI, you should be aware of the possible penalties you may face if convicted. The law requires you to serve a minimum of 48 hours in the local jail. Additionally, your license will be suspended for one year, you’ll be ordered to participate in an alcohol and drug treatment program (and complete it), and you’ll pay a stiff fine. If you’ve injured anyone while committing the DUI, you’ll also pay restitution if another person suffered any injuries or loss as a result of your actions. It is also true that a judge can order you to install an ignition interlock device (IED) on your car.
Here is more information about Tennessee DUI Laws:
Tennessee DUI Laws: Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent
|"Per Se" BAC Limit||0.08 Percent|
|Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit||0.02 Percent|
|Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit||0.20 Percent|
|Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test?||Yes|
Tennessee DUI Laws: Select Penalties
|Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st, 2nd, 3rd offense)||1 year, 2 years, 3-10 years|
|Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment||Discretionary|
|Vehicle Confiscation Possible?||Yes (on second offense)|
|Ignition Interlock Device Possible?||Yes|
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Tennessee DUI Resources
- DUI Statutes: Drug and Alcohol Driving Offenses (Tenn. Code Ann. 55-10-401 - 453).
- Tennessee DUI Facts - State website detailing penalties and costs of various DUI convictions. (Tenn. Dept. of Safety & Homeland Security).
- DUI Schools - Information and locations for the state's Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Program. (Tenn. Dept. of Mental Health).
- Restricted License Information - Details on eligibility for restricted driving privileges after a first or second DUI offense. (Tenn. Dept. of Safety & Homeland Security).
Get Help Today From a Tennessee DUI Attorney
A DUI conviction can have lasting consequences on your driving record, criminal record, and can show up on a criminal background check. It can also have ripple effects throughout your life, such as the inability to drive to work. In order to learn more about your case and the best steps moving forward, it's probably in your best interests to contact a Tennessee DUI attorney.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.