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Tennessee DUI Laws

While it is common knowledge that driving your motor vehicle and being impaired by alcohol or drugs is dangerous to yourself, your passengers, and other motorists, at what point does it become a crime? In Tennessee, as in other states, drinking alcohol and driving is illegal if you are under the influence (DUI) at the time of driving. You can also be in violation of the law if you have drunk so much alcohol that your blood alcohol level (BAC) is at a 0.08 percent or more at the time of driving. And the law is the same in both Nashville and Knoxville – the law is the same throughout the “Volunteer State.”

While it is difficult to determine the exact number of drinks it takes to get a person to the "legal limit", the best answer is to always have a sober driver with you or call a cab or ride share service. Here’s a useful guide to Tennessee DUI laws. 

First-Time Tennessee DUI 

If this is your first time being charged with a DUI, you should be aware of the possible penalties you may face if convicted.  The law requires you to serve a minimum of 48 hours in the local jail. Additionally, your license will be suspended for one year, you’ll be ordered to participate in an alcohol and drug treatment program (and complete it), and you’ll pay a stiff fine. If you’ve injured anyone while committing the DUI, you’ll also pay restitution if another person suffered any injuries or loss as a result of your actions. It is also true that a judge can order you to install an ignition interlock device (IED) on your car.

Here is more information about Tennessee DUI Laws:

Tennessee DUI Laws: Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent

"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.08 Percent
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.02 Percent
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.20 Percent
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? Yes

Tennessee DUI Laws: Select Penalties

Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st, 2nd, 3rd offense) 1 year, 2 years, 3-10 years
Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Discretionary
Vehicle Confiscation Possible? Yes (on second offense)
Ignition Interlock Device Possible? Yes

Tennessee DUI Resources

  • DUI Statutes: Drug and Alcohol Driving Offenses (Tenn. Code Ann. 55-10-401 - 453).
  • Tennessee DUI Facts - State website detailing penalties and costs of various DUI convictions. (Tenn. Dept. of Safety & Homeland Security).
  • DUI Schools - Information and locations for the state's Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Program. (Tenn. Dept. of Mental Health).
  • Restricted License Information - Details on eligibility for restricted driving privileges after a first or second DUI offense. (Tenn. Dept. of Safety & Homeland Security).

Additional Resources

Get a Free Case Review from a DUI Attorney

A DUI conviction can have lasting consequences on your driving record, criminal record, and can show up on a criminal background check. In order to learn more about your case and the best steps moving forward, it's probably in your best interests to contact a DUI attorney for a free case evaluation. An attorney can help you get the best possible outcome for your case.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified DUI attorney to make sure
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