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What are the Penalties for Your First DUI Offense in Tennessee?

Each state imposes different punishments for driving under the influence, with Tennessee being known to impose harsh penalties for the crime. Tennessee law is complicated when it comes to determining penalties for a DUI offense, so you need to hire experienced counsel to explain your legal options.

In this article, our Nashville DUI lawyer reviews the penalties for a first DUI offense, along with ways to dispute a DUI charge.

Penalties for a First DUI Offense

Tennessee imposes different penalties for those of legal drinking age and underage individuals found driving under the influence.

Motorists 21 Years of Age and Older

Under Tennessee law, you are considered to be driving under the influence if your blood alcohol level is 0.08 percent or higher. A first-time DUI offense is a class A misdemeanor in Tennessee.

For a first-time offense, the following penalties will apply:

  • Mandatory 48 hours in jail, with the potential for 11 months, 29 days in prison
  • A mandatory fine between $350-$1,500
  • Requirement to participate in an alcohol and drug treatment program
  • Restitution to any person who had physical injuries or losses due to your DUI
  • License revocation for one year
  • Eligibility for a Restricted License, which will allow you to drive to work, transport your children to school, and travel to other restricted locations
  • Requirement to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. You will need to breathe into the device to start the engine
  • If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.2 percent or higher, then you will be required to spend at least seven consecutive days in jail

Underage Motorists

Under the state’s zero-tolerance policy, underage drivers can be charged for a DUI if there is any detectable amount of alcohol in their blood. This means that an individual can be charged with a DUI for a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of just 0.02 percent.

Tennessee law details the following penalties for first-time offenders found driving impaired:

  • One-year license suspension
  • Restricted license not available
  • $250 fine
  • The individual may apply for early withdrawal or suspension after 90 days
  • A court may impose public service work

Disputing a DUI Charge in Tennessee

A police officer must have reasonable suspicion to pull someone over. This could be based on you swerving between lanes, speeding, or running a red light. However, to make a DUI arrest, the police officer must have probable cause. A higher level of proof than a reasonable suspicion, law enforcement must establish enough evidence to show that you are impaired. This is usually done through administering a field sobriety test or having the motorist take a breath test.

The validity of either of these tests can easily be challenged. Anyone who has a medical condition may be deemed inebriated on a field sobriety test when they are, in fact, completely sober. Alternatively, if you were asked to take a breathalyzer test, the device may not have been properly calibrated, skewing your results.

A Nashville DUI lawyer has experience in investigating DUI cases and will know which evidence can be challenged.

Speak with our Nashville, TN, DUI Lawyer Immediately

A DUI charge requires skilled representation. If you have been recently charged with a DUI in or near the Nashville area, we want to hear from you. To discuss your situation with our attorney, contact the office by phone or by completing our online contact form.

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