Tennessee DUI Laws: FAQ

What are the penalties for a DUI conviction in Tennessee?

If you are convicted of DUI in Tennessee for the first time, you can be incarcerated for a period ranging from two days to one year. For the period of time during which you are not incarcerated, you will be placed on probation, for up to one year. 
 
You face potential fines of $350 - $1,500, your driver’s license will be suspended, you can be ordered to do community service, you must complete a DUI education course in order to have your driver’s license reinstated, and you may ordered to install a vehicle ignition interlock devise at your own expense. 
 
Average fees for a first DUI conviction can add up to almost $5,000, including attorney’s fees, court costs, license reinstatement fees, fines, and the costs of compliance with all court orders.

Thus, Tennessee DUI Penalties break down as follows:

1st Offense:

  • Jail Time: 48 hours-11 months & 29 days (.20 BAC or greater minimum jail time 7 consecutive days),
  • License revocation: 1 year,
  • You will be ordered to participate in a DUI school,
  • Pay restitution to any person suffering physical injury or personal loss,
  • $350-$1,500 fine,
  • With towing, bail, attorney, high risk insurance, court costs, school, and reinstatement fees, your first offense average costs could add up to $4,900,
  • Judge can order you to install a vehicle Ignition Interlock Device at your expense, Minimum 1st year cost $810, and
  • Drug and Alcohol Treatment may be required at the judge's discretion.


2nd Offense:

  • Jail Time: 45 days to 11 months & 29 days,
  • $600-$3,500 mandatory fine,
  • License revocation for 2 years/Restricted License available after first year,
  • Subject to vehicle seizure/forfeiture,
  • You will be ordered to attend a DUI school,
  • Judge can order you to install a vehicle Ignition Interlock Device at your expense,
  • If two (2) convictions of DUI in 5 years, Ignition Interlock Device required for 6 months after reinstatement at your expense, and
  • Pay restitution to any person suffering personal injury or loss.


3rd Offense:

  • 120 days to 11 months &29 days in jail,
  • $1,100 to $10,000 mandatory fines,
  • License revocation for 3-10 years/NO restricted license available,
  • Subject to vehicle seizure/forfeit,
  • DUI school,
  • Judge could order an Ignition Interlock Device installed at your expense, and
  • If two (2) convictions of DUI in 5 years, Ignition Interlock Device required for 6 months after reinstatement at your expense.


4th Offense:

  • Class E Felony,
  • 1 Year (365) days of jail time with a minimum of 150 consecutive days served,
  • $3,000 to $15,000 mandatory fine,
  • License revocation for 5 years/NO restricted license available,
  • Subject to vehicle seizure/forfeit,
  • DUI school,
  • Judge could order an Ignition Interlock Device installed at your expense,
  • If two (2) convictions of DUI in 5 years, Ignition Interlock Device required for 6 months after reinstatement at your expense.

When can I be convicted of aggravated vehicular assault while intoxicated in Tennessee?

You may be convicted if any of the following conditions are present:

  • Two or more prior DUI convictions,
  • Two Vehicular assault convictions or,
  • Any combination of the two,
  • One prior Vehicular Homicide, or
  • A DUI with BAC of .20 or greater at the time of the vehicular homicide and have
  • (1) one prior DUI or Vehicular Assault offense

In addition, if you are convicted you will be a class A Felon.

Must I consent to a Chemical or Field Sobriety Test when I am pulled over for DUI in Tennessee?

Not Necessarily. If you are a first time offender then you are not required to consent to a chemical sobriety test. Nonetheless, if you refuse your driver’s license may be suspended for a period of 1 to 5 years under Tennessee's implied consent law. However, as of January 1, 2012, if you are a repeat DUI offender or you are suspected of DUI while transporting passengers under 16-years-old you cannot refuse to take a chemical test. In this situation a police officer has the legal right to measure your blood alcohol content with or without your consent.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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