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Tennessee DUI Penalties

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Tennessee DUI Penalties

Implied Consent Laws

Blood-Alcohol Concentration

Zero Tolerance Blood Alcohol Concentration

Enhanced Penalty Blood Alcohol Concentration

Administrative License Suspension/Revocation Penalties

Vehicle Confiscation

Ignition Interlock

Mandatory Alcohol Education and Assessment/Treatment



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Implied Consent Laws


Laws call for drivers alleged of driving under the influence to admit to breath, blood, or urine testing for alcohol content are known as "implied consent laws." Rejection carries penalties that can include obligatory suspension of a driving license for up to a year.

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Blood-Alcohol Concentration

In Tennessee, any driver with a blood-alcohol absorption - or BAC - above .08 percent is considered “per se intoxicated” under the law. Under this statute, this corroboration is all that is needed for a driver to be convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

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Zero Tolerance Blood-Alcohol Concentration

In all states, “zero tolerance laws” focal point on drivers not of legal drinking age. In Tennessee, persons under the age of 21 operating a vehicle with a .02 percent blood-alcohol level or over are subject to DUI penalties.

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Enhanced Penalty Blood-Alcohol Concentration

In some states there is a more harsh punishment for those convicted of DUI with a for the most part high blood-alcohol content at the moment in time of arrest; this is usually .15 to .20 percent above the legal limit. Enhanced penalty laws are not utilized in Tennessee.

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Administrative License Suspension/Revocation Penalties

These penalties are minimum mandatory penalties imposed on drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration above Tennessee’s maximum tolerable level of .08 percent or drivers subject to the implied consent laws (see above) for refusing to submit to breath, blood, or urine testing for blood-alcohol content.

Penalties involve suspension or revocation (meaning short-term or permanent removal) of the driver’s license by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). In Tennessee, for the original DUI offense the mandatory suspension is 90 days; for the second offense, one year; for the third offense, three years.

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Vehicle Confiscation

The fine of vehicle confiscation for DUI conviction – either enduringly or temporarily - is a prospect in some states, ordinarily for repeat offenders. This is not a penalty option in Tennessee.

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Ignition Interlock

An ignition interlock device attaches to the condemned DUI offender’s vehicle and requires the driver to do a breath-test before the vehicle will start. While this penalty for DUI conviction is a likelihood in some states, this is not an alternative in Tennessee.

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Mandatory Alcohol Education and Assessment/Treatment

Alcohol teaching and prevention program, treatment for alcohol abuse, and evaluation of a person for possible alcohol or drug reliance can be required for DUI offenders in Tennessee. These steps are often recommended instead of serving a sentence of incarceration or paying fines.

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