First Offense at Tennessee DUI Penalties



Drivers found guilty of driving under the influence in Tennessee can expect to lose their license, spend time in jail and make restitution for any damages. Tennessee DUI Penalties can also include a number of fees that can be costly. Offenders may have to deal with fines, attorney fees and higher auto insurance premiums. If the judge orders it, the cost of an Ignition Interlock Program and the fee for reinstating a driver’s license is the responsibility of the defendant.

Individuals over the age of 21 can receive a DUI charge if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches .08 percent or higher. Impairment at this level may not cause the driver to feel intoxicated or impaired. Law enforcement officers have the right to measure the BAC of any Tennessee driver. This is covered under the state’s “implied consent” laws. Drivers can receive a one-year license suspension for refusing to take a BAC test. For refusals on second or third offenses, drivers can get a two-year license suspension.

Ignition interlock devices are not a requirement in Tennessee, but a judge does have the ability to order a driver to get one. The person must pay for the device and its upkeep, but if this is a financial hardship, the judge may be lenient and not require one.

Penalties for a 1st DUI offense

A first-time offender can spend 48 hours to 11 months, 29 days in jail. The defendant will lose his or her license for one year and could be ordered to attend an alcohol and drug treatment program. The judge can impose a fine of $350 to $1,500 and require an interlock device at the driver’s expense. The combination of costs for a first offense can add up to almost $5,000.

Penalties for a 2nd DUI offense

Second offenders face stiffer penalties. Jail time is a minimum of 45 days or as much as 11 months, 29 days. Drivers will lose their licenses for two years and may have to forfeit their vehicle. Tennessee DUI Penalties call for a mandatory fine of between $600 to $3,500 for second-time offenders. The judge may also order the defendant to attend an alcohol and drug treatment program. If the court orders an interlock device, it is installed at the driver’s expense. The device must be in place for six months for offenders who have had two DUI convictions within five years.

Penalties for a 3rd DUI offense

For a third offense, the minimum jail time is increased to 120 days. The maximum time in custody remains at 11 months, 29 days. Convicted drivers will lose their licenses for between six and 10 years and face fines of between $1,100 to $10,000. These penalties are in addition to the cost of the interlock device if ordered, and the drug and alcohol treatment program.

Fourth time DUI offenders are classified as Class E Felonies and face jail time with up to $15,000 in fines. Drivers also can lose their license for eight years. Vehicular assault is a Class D Felony, punishable by up to 12 years in jail, a revoked license, fines and court costs.

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