Learn More About DWIs

Tennessee DUI & DWI Laws

Jun 30, 2016

Tennessee has very strict drinking driving laws that come with severe punishments, especially if the drunk driving incident resulted in injury or death. In Tennessee, you can be convicted of a DUI or driving under the influence if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or greater. A DUI is considered a crime that not only includings misuse of alcohol while operating a vehicle but driving under the influence of controlled substances and drugs as well.

Legal limit in Tennessee:

  • Standard, non-commercial drivers: .08% BAC
  • Commercial drivers: .04% BAC
  • Drivers under 21: .02% BAC

Penalties, Fines, & Suspension

Tennessee DUI & DWI Penalties, Fines, & Suspension
Penalty 1st offense 2nd offense 3rd offense 4th offense
Sentence 48 hours to 11 months 45 days to 1 year 120 days to 1 year 150 days to 6 years
Fine $350 to $1,500 $600 to $3,500 $1,100 to $10,000 $3,000 to $15,000
Driver’s License Suspension 1 year 2 years 3 to 10 years 5 years to life

Chemical Test Refusal

Tennessee is an implied consent state meaning that drivers are required to take a chemical test if asked by a law enforcement officer. This chemical test will determine a person’s blood alcohol levels or BAC. If refused, an offender will suffer from an automatic license suspension with punishments that can increase with each offense or degree of the accident.

1st offense: 1 year
2nd offense: 2 years
1st offense/crash causing injury: 2 years
1st offense/ crash causing death: 5 years

Ignition Interlock

Any driver guilty of a DUI will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle in order to be able to drive with a license suspension. The costs associated with this device will be at the responsability of the offender.

Criminal Record

A DUI conviction will stay on a person’s record for 10 years in the state of Tennessee.

Under 21

If you are convicted of driving under the influence under the age of 21, you can receive a DUI charge even if your blood alcohol levels are below the legal limit. A minor found drinking and driving to any degree will be penalized with a year license suspension, a fine of $250 and community service hours ordered by the court.

DWI with a Child Passenger

If you are convicted of a DWI with a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle you will be subject to a 30 day mandatory sentence and a $1,000 mandatory fine in addition to existing DWI penalties. If a child is injured or killed due to drinking and driving, the punishments will increase drastically.

More on TN DUI Laws:

Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security: DUI Outline:

Center for Disease Control: Tennessee Drunk Driving Fact Sheet:

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Updated: August 29, 2016 at 10:13 am