DUI Laws in Tennessee

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PROHIBITED VEHICULAR ACTIVITY: “to drive or be in physical control”[1]

COVERED VEHICLES: “any automobiles or motor driven vehicle”

COVERED LOCATIONS: “any public roads and highways of the state, or on any streets or alleys, or while on the premises of any shopping center, trailer park, or any apartment house complex, or any other premises which is frequented by the public.”


Driving, etc. while, “Under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system, or combination thereof that impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of oneself that the driver would otherwise possess”

Driving, etc, the alcohol concentration in such person’s blood or breath is eight-hundredths of one percent (.08%) or more.


The expression “under the influence” covers not only all well known and easily recognized conditions and degrees of intoxication, but also any mental or physical condition which is the result of taking intoxicants or drugs in any form and which deprives one of that clearness of mind and control of oneself which one would otherwise possess. In this situation, it would not be necessary that the person be in such a condition as would make him/her guilty of public drunkenness. The law merely requires that the person be under the influence of an intoxicant or drug. The degree of intoxication must be such that it impairs to any extent the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle [3]


For a DUI 1st conviction: Eleven month and twenty nine day (11/29) sentence, with a minimum service or forty eight (48) hours jail, a fine between $350.00 to $1,500.00, Alcohol safety class, suspension of drivers license for one (1) year. (Eligible for restricted license). If your blood or breath sample is .20% or higher the jail time is seven (7) consecutive days.

For DUI 2nd conviction: Eleven month and twenty nine day (11/29) sentence, with a minimum service of forty five days (45) in jail, a fine between $600.00 and $3,500.00, suspension of drivers license for two (2) years. (Eligible for Restricted License with an Ignition Interlock Device).

For DUI 3rd convictions: Eleven month and twenty nine day (11/29) sentence with a minimum service of one hundred and twenty days (120) in jail, a fine between $1,100.00 and $10,000.00, a suspension of drivers license for six (6) years. (Eligible for Restricted License with an Ignition Interlock Device).

For DUI 4th or 5th conviction: This is an E-felony, with a range of punishment from one (1) to six (6) years imprisonment, with a minimum of one hundred and fifty (150) days jail, a fine between $3,000.00 and $15,000.00. Loss of license for eight (8) years. (Eligible for Restricted License with an Ignition Interlock Device).

For DUI 6th or subsequent convictions: This is a C-felony, with a range of punishment from three (3) to fifteen (15) years imprisonment, with a minimum of one hundred and fifty (150) consecutive days in jail, a fine between $3,000.00 and $15,000.00, and a loss of driver’s license for eight (8) years. (Eligible for Restricted License with an Ignition Interlock Device).

The calculation for multiple offenses is from date of initial conviction to the date the last offense was committed. The state may go back ten (10) years to the last conviction and ten (10) years from that. No more than twenty (20) year’s total.

A driver is potentially eligible for a restricted license in Tennessee if convicted of a DUI offense or if found in violation of Implied Consent Law. Restricted licenses may be approved by the court depending on the facts of each case with either geographic restrictions being imposed by the court or with an Ignition Interlock Device being installed on the vehicle. Effective January 2016 to obtain a restricted license, an Ignition Interlock Device will be required if: (a) BAC of .08% or above; (b) DUI with any Blood Alcohol Content and Drugs; (c) Person under 18 in vehicle; (d) Accident due to DUI; (e) Violation of the Implied Consent and prior conviction; (f) Prior DUI within 10 years; (g) Driver requested and (h) Court discretion.


Evidence that there was, at the time alleged, eight-hundredths of one percent (.08%) or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant’s blood shall create a presumption that the defendant’s ability to drive was sufficiently impaired.

IMPLIED CONSENT LAW:[6] T.C.A. 55-10-406 & T.C.A. 55-10-407

Tests permitted: Blood, breath or both.

Type of advisement: Must be placed under arrest, and advised of consequences for failing to take the test.

Penalties for refusal: one to five year suspension depending on the number of prior offenses. Possible jail time if the person violates while driving on a suspended or revoked license.

Determination of whether the driver violated the implied consent will be at the driver’s first appearance date or the preliminary hearing but before the case is bound over to the grand jury. The state may move to waive this. This is applicable only to the civil penalty of implied consent and not if the charge is the misdemeanor implied consent.

If the trial court finds the basis for the stop of the driver lacked sufficient cause then that court shall order the reinstatement of the license. The suspension of the license will run concurrent to the DUI charge unless the driver has one of the following that is determined by the court: a conviction or juvenile adjudication within the last 5 years for: (i) implied consent; (ii) underage driving while impaired; (iii) open container law; (iv) reckless driving and the original charge was DUI.

Admissibility of refusal: Admissible

BLOOD DRAWING STATUTE:[7] (T.C.A. 55-10-406 (b)(1))

Any physician, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, clinical laboratory technician, licensed paramedic, licensed EMT, approved to establish intravenous catheters, or technologist, or certified or nationally registered phlebotomist who, acting at the written request of law enforcement officer.

INDEPENDENT TEST STATUTE:[9] (T.C.A. 55-10-408 (e))

The person tested shall be entitled to have an additional sample of blood procured and the resulting test performed by any medical laboratory of that person’s own choosing and at that person’s own expense so long as the medical laboratory is licensed pursuant to title 69, chapter 29.




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