Tennessee DUI Penalties

Tennessee DUI laws and penalties

Each State within the United States has been given the authority to write their own laws on Driving Under the Influence, or better known as DUI. Within this article we will explore the different laws within the State of Tennessee, and their penalties. To begin with, Tennessee has what is known as a ten year “Lookback Period”. This means that any previously acquired within the past ten years is now relevant to the sentencing process you are facing with your current DUI charges. This is also known as a “washout” period.

What constitutes a high BAC for a DUI in Tennesses?

  • Under 21: .02%
  • 21 or Older: .08%
  • Commercial: .04%

There is never an acceptable time to drink and drive as your vision, reasoning, along with your mental capacity to make important decisions and judgments are severely hindered and not capable of bouncing back to what you are able to perform without alcohol in your system. Each person is different and their tolerance level for alcohol is severely unpredictable, making it impossible to say how many drinks are “normal” or not. This is what requires law enforcement to perform chemical tests on suspecting DUI offenders. If you are pulled over and are requested to take a chemical test, Tennessee has what is known as an implied consent law. This means that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test you will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension. For refusal to take the chemical test, the penalties are as follows:

  • First Offense: 1 year license suspension
  • Second Offense: 2 year license suspension
  • Third Offense: 2 year license suspension

What are the penalties within the Tennessee DUI laws?

There are several penalties within the Tennessee DUI laws, and we will explore them in this section. Should you be pulled over and found guilty of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol with the boarders of the State of Tennessee, the following penalties are what you will be facing:

Penalty of Jail

  • First Offense: 48 hours up to 11 months
  • Second Offense: 45 days up to 1 year
  • Third Offense: 120 days up to 1 year
  • Fourth Offense: 150 days up to 6 years

Penalties and Fines

  • First Offense: $350 to $1,500
  • Second Offense: $600 to $3,500
  • Third Offense: $1,100 to $10,000
  • Fourth Offense: $3,000 to $15,000

Penalty of License Suspension

  • First Offense: 1 year
  • Second Offense: 2 years
  • Third Offense: 3 to 10 years
  • Fourth Offense: 5 years to infefinite


It is important to note that laws change, as well as their interpretation an application of them. Due to the fact that there are multiple jurisdictions within a State and each may choose to enforce the law in different ways, it is important to prepare for the unexpected. For this reason, it would be in your best interest to retain the services of a professional and experienced lawyer who is well versed on the DUI law within the State of Tennessee, as well as being capable of giving you the direction you need for your specific case, along with being current on all laws pertaining to DUI.

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Category: DUI and DWI