Tennessee DUI Laws & Penalties

Tennessee DUI law code 55-10-401 states that it is against the law for any person to drive a motor vehicle in the state of Tennessee while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater.

It is not necessary for a person who has been stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence to display the signs one would typically associate with someone who is under the influence.  Just the fact that a chemical test shows a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater will get you arrested for DUI in Tennessee.

It should also be noted that a person could still be arrested for driving under the influence in Tennessee even if their blood alcohol concentration level is below the legal limit of .08% just by displaying signs that are consistent with a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.



When an officer stops someone on suspicion of DUI in Tennessee, the officer is already starting to build a case against that person by observing their driving patterns prior to initiating the DUI stop.  If the officer has established reasonable grounds and suspects that someone is under the influence, the officer is going to request that the individual perform some field sobriety test (it is not required by law that you submit to the field sobriety tests. If an officer asks you to take the field sobriety test, just kindly refuse his request).

Tennessee Implied Consent Law & Test Refusal Penalties

The officer is then going to request that you submit to a chemical test.  Submitting to a chemical test is required by the Tennessee Implied consent law.  If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, the officer must inform the driver of the penalties for test refusal and then ask the driver a second time if he or she will submit to a chemical test.

If this is a first offense violation, your license will be revoked for 1-year for a test refusal.  A second offense refusal will result in a 2-year revocation of your license.  If a driving under the influence offense results in a crash causing injuries to another person and you refuse to submit to a chemical test your license will be revoked for 2-years or 5-years if the crash resulted in a death.

Tennessee First Offense DUI

A Tennessee first offense DUI conviction is a Misdemeanor offense and carries the following penalties:

  • Jail time: A first offense conviction will result in a minimum jail sentence of 48-hours up to a maximum jail sentence of 11 months and 29 days.  If your BAC level was .20% or greater you will have to spend a minimum of 7 days in jail.
  • Fines: The fine amount for a first offense will be between $350 to $1,500 plus associated court costs.  If there was any property damage or injuries to other people resulting from an accident you will be required to pay restitution.
  • DUI school: You will be required to attend a state approved DUI school as a first time offender.
  • Test refusal: A first offense will result in a 1 year license revocation. You will be eligible for a restricted license.
  • Ignition interlock: The court may order you to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle as a condition of getting a restricted license or having your license reinstated at the end of your revocation period.
  • License suspension: Your license will be revoked for 1 year following a first offense.  First time offenders will be eligible for a restricted license if they meet the requirements for one. Before the Tennessee DOS will reinstate your license following your revocation period or issue you a restricted license you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Tennessee SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee to the Department.

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Tennessee Second Offense DUI

A Tennessee second offense DUI conviction is a Misdemeanor offense and carries the following penalties:

  • Jail time: A second offense conviction will result in a minimum jail sentence of 45 days up to a maximum jail sentence of 11 months and 29 days.
  • Fines: The fine amount for a second offense will be between $600 to $3,500 plus associated court costs.  If there was any property damage or injuries to other people resulting from an accident you will be required to pay restitution.
  • DUI school: You will be required to attend a state approved DUI school as a second time offender.
  • Vehicle forfeiture: Second time offenders may be subject to having their vehicle seized and forfeited to the state.
  • Test refusal: A second offense refusal will result in a 2 year license revocation. You will be eligible for a restricted license during revocation period with the use of an ignition interlock.
  • Ignition interlock: An ignition interlock will be required during restricted driving period and for an additional 6 months once your license is fully reinstated.
  • License suspension: Your license will be revoked for 2 years following a second offense.  You will be eligible for a restricted license after 1 year of revocation. Before the Tennessee DOS will reinstate your license following your revocation period or issue you a restricted license you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Tennessee SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee to the Department.

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Tennessee Third Offense DUI

A Tennessee third offense DUI conviction is a Misdemeanor offense and carries the following penalties:

  • Jail time: A third offense conviction will result in a minimum jail sentence of 120 days up to a maximum jail sentence of 11 months and 29 days.
  • Fines: The fine amount for a third offense will be between $1,100 to $10,000 plus associated court costs.  If there was any property damage or injuries to other people resulting from an accident you will be required to pay restitution.
  • DUI school: You will be required to attend a state approved DUI school as a third time offender.
  • Vehicle forfeiture: Third time offenders may be subject to having their vehicle seized and forfeited to the state.
  • Test refusal: A third offense refusal will result in a 2 year license revocation. You will be eligible for a restricted license during revocation period with the use of an ignition interlock.
  • Ignition interlock: An ignition interlock will be required during restricted driving period and for an additional 6 months once your license is fully reinstated.
  • License suspension: Your license will be revoked for 3-10 years following a third offense.  Third time offenders will not be eligible for a restricted license. Before the Tennessee DOS will reinstate your license following your revocation period you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Tennessee SR22 policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee to the Department.

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Tennessee Fourth or Subsequent Offense DUI

A Tennessee fourth or subsequent offense DUI conviction is a Class E Felony offense and carries the following penalties:

  • Jail time: A fourth or subsequent offense conviction will result in a 1 year imprisonment term and you must serve 150 days consecutively.
  • Fines: The fine amount for a fourth or subsequent offense will be between $3,000 to $15,000 plus associated court costs.  If there was any property damage or injuries to other people resulting from an accident you will be required to pay restitution.
  • DUI school: You will be required to attend a state approved DUI school as a fourth or subsequent time offender.
  • Vehicle forfeiture: Fourth or subsequent time offenders may be subject to having their vehicle seized and forfeited to the state.
  • Ignition interlock: At the judge's discretion he or she may order you to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle as a condition of having your license reinstated at the end of your revocation period.

    If this was a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction with two of your prior convictions occurring within the past 5-years you will be required to have the ignition interlock for an additional 6 months following the reinstatement of your license following your revocation period.  The average yearly cost of an ignition interlock is $810 minimum.
  • License revocation: Your license will be revoked for a minimum of 5-years following a fourth or subsequent offense.  Fourth or subsequent time offenders will not be eligible for a restricted license.

    Before the Tennessee DOS will reinstate your license following your revocation period you will be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum auto insurance liability coverage limits.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee to the Department.

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Tennessee CDL DUI Laws

A person operating a commercial motor vehicle in the state of Tennessee while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or an intoxicant with a blood alcohol concentration of .04% or greater or failing to submit to a chemical test is in violation of the state's laws regarding CDL's and will be arrested for DUI and your CDL will be revoked for a period of 1-year following a first offense violation.  A second CDL DUI offense will result in your CDL being revoked for life.

If you were carrying hazardous materials at the time, your CDL will be revoked for 3-years. A second offense violation while carrying hazardous materials will result in a permanent CDL revocation, you will never be able to drive or operate a CMV again.  A CMV operator stopped and found to have any measurable amount of alcohol less than .04% in their system will be issued an "out-of-service" notice and will not be allowed to drive for the next 24-hours.

Tennessee DUI Under 21 Years of Age

Per Tennessee law 55-10-415 it is a Class A Misdemeanor for anyone under the age of 21 but older than 18 to drinking and drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .02% or greater.  A first time offender will have their license suspended for 1-year plus they will have to pay a $250 fine.



Anyone between the ages of 16 and 18 who is found to have consumed alcohol or drugs and has a BAC level of .02% or greater is guilty of committing a Delinquent Act and will have their driver's license suspended for 1-year and will have to pay a $250 fine.

If you are under 21 and are arrested for having a BAC level of .08% or greater you will be facing the same fines and penalties as someone over 21 would face for the same offense except that a person under 21 will only be facing a 24-hour jail sentence for a first offense instead of the minimum 48-hours for someone over 21 years of age will face.

You will also be required to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of an Tennessee SR-22 insurance policy before the Department of Safety will reinstate your license.

Tennessee SR22 Requirements

Before the Tennessee Department of Safety will reinstate your license following your suspension or revocation period, they will require you to file an SR22 form with them before issuing you a new license. You will be required to carry your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years.

At anytime during this 3-year period if there is a lapse in your Tennessee SR22 insurancecoverage, your insurance provider is obligated by law to immediately inform the Tennessee DOS of the lapse.  If a lapse in coverage occurs, the Tennessee DOS will immediately suspend your license and you will be required to re-file an SR22 form with the DOS before they will issue you another license.

Since you are going to have to have your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years, it is important to find the cheapest policy you can before choosing one.  DUI Process has partnered with the largest and most trusted SR22 insurance provider in the state of Tennessee and has worked out a special discount only available here for our website visitors.

You won't be able to find a SR22 insurance policy in Tennessee for any less. Type in your zip code below so we can provide you with the cheapest rates in your area.

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Other Tennessee DUI Resources

  • Tennessee First Offense DUI - First offense information including penalties, fines, potential jail time, license suspension, DUI classes, and much more.

  • Tennessee SR22 Insurance Filing - We have compiled everything you need to know about Tennessee SR22 insurance and filing requirements including important addresses, phone numbers, etc.

  • Tennessee DUI ADAT Programs - We offer a complete listing of state approved DUI alcohol and drug addiction programs listed by County.

  • Tennessee Bail Bondsmen - Comprehensive list of Tennessee bail bond agents including address, phone, website, etc.