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DUI/DWI Information for Tennessee

Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offense committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver's blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.

In Tennessee, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities and accounts for an alarmingly high 40% to 50% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths every year.

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REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN TENNESSEE

In Tennessee, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers of all ages. For commercial drivers, the limit is set at 0.04%.

Having a Tennessee license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of "implied consent" and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyser test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test will result in your license being revoked for a year the first time and two years for repeat offenses, with more severe sanctions if your driving had caused an injury or death.

Points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/DWI. The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:

If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice.

  1. The first offense will result in imprisonment for 1 day to 11 months and 29 days (the minimum is a week at a stretch if the BAC was over0.2%). A $350-1500 fine will be levied.
  2. You license will be revoked for a year.
  3. You may be evaluated for addiction and ordered to have treatment.
  4. You will have to register in a DUI school.
  5. You may be ordered to install at a cost of $810 per annum, an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
  6. You will also incur additional costs of up to $4900 towards towing, attorney's fees, bail, court costs, DUI School, reinstatement, etc apart from restitution if any.
  7. The second offense will result in imprisonment for 45 days to 11 months and 29 days and a $600-3500 fine. Also, if convicted for the second offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
    • Your license will be revoked for two years but you may be granted restricted driving privileges after a year.
  8. You may be evaluated for addiction and ordered to have treatment.
  9. You will have to register in a DUI school.
  10. You may be ordered to install at a cost of about $810 per annum, an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
  11. You will also incur additional costs of up to $4900 towards towing, attorney's fees, bail, court costs, DUI School, reinstatement, etc apart from restitution if any.
  12. Your vehicle may be forfeited.
  13. The third and will result in imprisonment for 120 days to 11 months and 29 days and an $1100-10000 fine.
  14. Your license will be revoked for 3-10 years with no possibility of limited driving privilege.
  15. You may be evaluated for addiction and ordered to have treatment.
  16. You will have to register in a DUI school.
  17. You may be ordered to install at a cost of about $810 per annum, an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
  18. You will also incur additional costs of up to $4900 towards towing, attorney's fees, bail, court costs, DUI School, reinstatement, etc apart from restitution if any.
  19. Your vehicle may be seized or forfeited.
  20. The fourth or subsequent offense is a class E felony carrying imprisonment of one year (including at least 150 continuous days in jail) and a $3000-15000.
  21. Your license will be revoked for five years with no restricted driving privileges.
  22. You may be evaluated for addiction and ordered to have treatment.
  23. You will have to register in a DUI school.
  24. You may be ordered to install at a cost of about $810 per annum, an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
  25. You will also incur additional costs of up to $4900 towards towing, attorney's fees, bail, court costs, DUI School, reinstatement, etc apart from restitution if any.
  26. Your vehicle may be seized or forfeited.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21

  1. The minimum jail time for the first DUI offense if you are below 21 is two days (rather than one day for older drivers).
  2. All other penalties are the same regardless of age.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS

If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
  1. You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for a year, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04%.
  2. You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least three years, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04% while transporting hazardous materials.
  3. You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time.
  4. Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for their first and second offenses of DUI/DWI. The other penalties do not apply since they are barred after the second offense.

ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:

Tennessee laws have administrative implications in addition to the criminal laws against DUI/DWI. Based on this law, an officer may arrest a driver if he/she is driving with BAC 0.08% or more.

The driver can request an administrative hearing against the notice of suspension/revocation. It is a good idea to consult a DUI/DWI lawyer beforehand. If the hearing goes against the driver, his license will be suspended or revoked based on his previous driving record.

LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:

If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the Department of Safety, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension of a year, or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
  1. To complete the reinstatement requirements, you must prove that you have successfully completed the DUI school or a comparable program (the agency will send the proof to the Driver License Bureau once you have completed the program), pay the reinstatement fee, and maintain proof of financial responsibility by filing SR-22, if required.
  2. The court may order an ignition interlock device to be placed for breathalyser tests on any vehicle you drive.
  3. When you have met the conditions for reinstatement, you can contact the Tennessee Department of Safety by calling (615) 741-3954 or (866) 903-7357, sending an email to FinResp.Safety@state.tn.us or writing to:
    Tennessee Department of Safety
    P.O. Box 945
    Nashville, TN 37202    

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON'T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
  • If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
  • See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.
 

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