Call Now

What is a DUI in Tennessee?

What is a DUI in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, a DUI means Driving Under the Influence, and denotes the criminal offense of operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol or drugs that impair one’s ability to drive safely. Tennessee’s DUI laws aim to minimize road accidents and fatalities caused by impaired drivers, increasing the safety for all road users. 

Legal Limit and BAC

In Tennessee, as in all states across the U.S., the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and over. A person may also be considered impaired if under the effects of drugs.

For drivers under the age of 21, a BAC of 0.02% or more is illegal, aligning with the zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. An under 21 year old driver can also be considered impaired if under the influence of drugs.

Commercial drivers have a limit of 0.04%. A driver is deemed to be under the influence when the BAC exceeds these limits, or if the person is impaired by drugs, irrespective of the BAC.

DUI Enforcement

Law enforcement officers in Tennessee employ various methods to detect DUI offenders, including sobriety checkpoints, where they can stop vehicles at random to check drivers for impairment. Field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests are common procedures used to determine if a driver is under the influence.

Refusing to undergo a breathalyzer test may lead to automatic suspension of driving privileges under the implied consent law in Tennessee. You may be able to request a hearing to contest an administrative license revocation by the Department of Safety & Homeland Security Driver Services for an implied consent violation. Attorney Clarke can help determine if you are eligible for such a hearing.


Penalties for a DUI conviction in Tennessee are severe and increase with each subsequent offense. First-time offenders may face penalties such as fines ranging from $350 to $1,500, mandatory jail time of 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days, license revocation for one year, and mandatory participation in an alcohol and drug treatment program. Subsequent offenses result in elevated penalties, including higher fines, longer jail sentences, extended license revocation periods, and the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). 

Implied Consent Law

Tennessee’s implied consent law implies that by driving a vehicle on Tennessee roads, a person automatically consents to a blood or breath test to determine BAC.

Implied consent laws stipulate that drivers are pre-agreeing to undergo BAC  testing meaning Tennessee drivers give consent to testing when getting a license or traveling on local Tennessee roads. When you refuse you are technically violating the implied consent law. Law enforcement cannot make you undergo a test, such as a breathalyzer, during a traffice stop, which may produce evidence that you are over the legal limit. There is debate that sometimes refusing may be the better course of action, in spite of the penalties you may be hit with for refusing.

Refusing to take a test can result in license revocation for one year for the first refusal, two years for the second refusal, and two years if the refusal is connected to an accident involving injury to another person. 

Impact on Offender’s Life

Being convicted of a DUI in Tennessee can have a profound and long-lasting impact on a person’s life, affecting employment, social relationships, and financial standing. The legal, court, and insurance costs, along with the potential loss of employment due to jail time or a suspended license, can be financially crippling. Moreover, having a DUI conviction on one’s record can lead to societal stigmatization and strained personal relationships.

Rehabilitation and Education

To combat DUI offenses and their consequences, Tennessee employs rehabilitative measures, including mandatory alcohol and drug treatment programs and DUI education programs. These programs aim to help offenders understand the risks associated with impaired driving and reduce the likelihood of reoffending. 

If Charged with a DUI, Contact the Clarke Law Firm

A DUI conviction in Tennessee is a grave offense with stringent legal repercussions aimed at curbing impaired driving and promoting road safety. Tennessee employs robust enforcement, tough punishments, and educational and rehabilitative programs to address the issue of driving under the influence. However, the responsibility ultimately lies with individual drivers to understand the laws, make informed decisions, and prioritize personal health and safety for others.

If charged with a DUI, you need a good DUI defense attorney right away. Do not submit to questioning by police or investigators without your attorney. This is a constitutional right so calmly exercise it. Call Attorney Clarke as soon as you are able at 615-796-6299 or Se Habla Español: at 615-809-1255.

Our legal team is determined to pursue the best possible results for you. For more information about how we can help you, contact our office now.