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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).

Additional Resources

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

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Contact a qualified DUI attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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  • Complex DUI situations usually require a lawyer
  • DUI defense attorneys can challenge Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer or blood test results
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate DUI penalties
  • A lawyer can help get your license back

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