Memphis DUI FAQ
What are the Penalties for Being Found Guilty of a DUI in Tennessee?
BAC is the acronym for blood alcohol content, a measurement used to determine whether a Tennessee driver is legally impaired. Obtaining a BAC level is done via a breath gas analysis (breathalyzer) or blood test to measure alcohol mass per unit of blood or per unit of body mass. Due to variables such as whether you are male or female, your metabolism and body fat/body weight ratio, estimating the number of drinks you have consumed before getting behind the wheel is not an accurate method of guessing whether you have an illegal BAC.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, all U.S. states have laws making it against the law to drive a motor vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration is above 0.08 percent, or 0.08 g alcohol per 100 ml blood. If you are under 21 years old and blow a .02 percent, you will be charged with a DUI and taken to jail. If you are over 21 years old, you can be arrested for blowing a .08 percent BAC. However, drivers 16+ years of age who are caught operating commercial vehicles (buses, taxis) with a .04 BAC will be arrested and jailed.
Consequences of receiving a DUI charge in Tennessee:
- Having a DUI on your license automatically leads to higher insurance costs after you get your license reinstated.
- A DUI charge, whether it’s a first, second, third offense or greater, carries prison sentences, exorbitant fines, loss of your driver’s license for several years and difficulty obtaining loans, housing and employment due to having multiple DUIs on your record. Fourth offenses are treated as felony DUI’s.
- Repeat offenders could be placed in a residential facility or ordered to serve weekend intervention programs per referrals by presiding judges.
- Underage drinking offenders could be sentenced to regularly undergo mandatory searches, provide urine/blood samples on demand and be forbidden to travel without permission by the court.
- If you are pulled over for being suspected of drunk driving in Tennessee and cannot prove you have vehicle insurance, you may be monitored by the DMV through your insurance company. Forms are sent to DMVs by insurance companies when a customer fails to pay their premium. Failure to make payments could result in suspension of your driver’s license.
- Cost of a DUI conviction in Tennessee can be as much as $1,500 for a first offense, up to $3,500 for a second offense and upwards of $10,000 for a third offense. License suspension time for first time offenders is one year; two years for a second offense and three to 10 years for the third offense. Additional costs of $1,000 or more may be needed to cover motor vehicle restoration fees, municipality/state fees, violent crime compensation fees and fees to pay for mandatory driving programs as enforced by state laws.
- You will have your car towed on the spot and be required to pay towing and impound fees. Failure to pay fees in a timely manner could result in the loss of your vehicle.
- DUI offenders will need to pay for “high-risk insurance” if convicted of drunk driving in Tennessee. In fact, you may have to pay several hundred dollars a month in premiums for this type of insurance. Your insurance company can also cancel your insurance policy, especially if this is not your first DUI.
Jail time for first-time DUI offenders in Tennessee is as short as 48 hours or as long as 11 months and 29 days, depending on the circumstance of the arrest. For a second offense of DUI, drivers are looking at 45 days to 11 months and 29 days in jail. Third-time offenders can spend up to 120 days in jail or longer and lose their license for life. If you are allowed to retain your driver’s license, you may only be permitted to drive for work purposes. In addition, a judge could order an ignition interlock system installed in your car–at your expense.
Can You Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test in Tennessee?
Yes, you can refuse but refusing will subject you to Tennessee’s “implied consent law“. This law allows the court to slap an automatic driver’s license suspension and a hefty fine on you for not voluntarily taking a BAC. In other words, refusing a BAC means receiving the same penalties afforded a DUI conviction in Tennessee except for jail time.
Reinstatement of a Driver’s License Following Completion of a DUI Sentence
The Tennessee Department of Safety handles all license reinstatements. Proof of completing an alcohol education/treatment program, proof of having car insurance and payment of license application costs (reinstatement fees, SR22 vehicle insurance filing fees and an additional fee for not surrendering an existing driver’s license upon its suspension /revocation is necessary to regain a valid Tennessee driver’s license. There may be more fees to pay depending on the circumstances of your drunk driving conviction.
Pleading to a Lesser Offense
Tennessee allows DUI lawyers to plea bargain on behalf of their client. Although no statutory provision exists in Tennessee that ensures plea bargains will be accepted, a drunk driving charge could be amended to reckless driving (or reckless endangerment) charge, if you are represented by a seasoned criminal attorney. Penalties for a reckless conviction are less expensive and often eliminate mandatory jail times. However, be aware that DUI penalties vary significantly depending on if caused a crash, destroyed property or severely injured someone as a result of driving while intoxicated.
Get Help Today with a DUI Charge
If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with drunk driving, call the Hamilton Law Firm for immediate legal assistance: (901) 512-2287 . We may be able to get your charge dismissed or amended to reckless offense and minimize the financial and personal consequences associated with a DUI conviction.