Tennessee DUI Penalties
Under Tennessee law, a conviction for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can carry many penalties. A first offense Tennessee DUI, for example, will carry a minimum 48 hours in jail, but a second offense conviction carries a minimum 45 days in jail. The type and severity of penalty will depend on the facts of the case, and whether the individual has a prior conviction for DUI. First, second, and third offense Tennessee DUI convictions are misdemeanors, but fourth offenses and higher are felonies.
For first offense Tennessee DUIs, in addition to the minimum 48 hours in jail, the individual will go on probation for 11 months and 29 days minus any jail time served. So if the individual serves 48 hours in jail (equal to two days) they would go on probation for 11 months and 27 days. Under Tennessee law, if a driver’s blood alcohol content is .20% or greater they must serve seven days in jail.
First offenders will pay a minimum $350 fine in Tennessee, with a maximum of $1500. First offenders will lose their license for a period of one year but may apply for a restricted license. The restricted license will allow them to drive only to work, school, church, probation meetings, or court-ordered activities such as alcohol safety school.
For a second offense, as I stated above, the minimum jail time is 45 days. The probationary period is 11 months and 29 days minus any time spent in jail. Second offenders in Tennessee pay a minimum $600 fine, with a maximum of $3500. Their license will be revoked for two years, and they may apply for a restricted license but will not be eligible for at least one year. That means that a DUI second offender in Tennessee will not have any type of driver’s license whatsoever, even a restricted license, for at least a year. Second offenders will be required to install an ignition interlock device.
In addition to these penalties, a DUI conviction in Tennessee remains on the individual’s record forever. This is perhaps the most serious consequence of a DUI and something I always tell new or prospective clients. Many first offenses in Tennessee can be expunged through a process called diversion; however, DUI is not one of them. It remains on the individual’s record forever, even if they’ve never had so much as a traffic ticket. Obviously, having a DUI on your record can affect your employment prospects.
Because of the potential penalties, it is important for a person charged with DUI in Tennessee to seek out an experienced Memphis DUI lawyer. There may be ways to challenge the case on a number of legal or factual grounds, possibly resulting in a dismissal or reduction of the charge.