DUI Charges in TN and Obtaining a Restricted Driver’s License

The Charge: It is against the law for any person to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a blood concentration level of 0.08% or greater.

Type of ConvictionJail TimeFinesLicense Revocation PeriodVehicle Seizure
1st ConvictionMandatory 48 hours and up to 11 months, 29 days If BAC is 0.20% or more, mandatory 7 days and up to 11 months, 29 days$350-$1500 Plus court costs1 yearDoes not apply
2nd Conviction45 days – 11 months, 29 days$600-$3500 Plus court costs2 yearsVehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture
3rd Conviction120 days – 11 months, 29 days$1,100 – $10,000 Plus court costs3 -10 yearsVehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture
4th or subsequent Conviction (is a Class E felony)365 days with a minimum of 150 consecutive days served$3,000- $15,000 Plus court costs5 years [to indefinite]Vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture

In addition to the minimum penalties above, the Court will also require the following of a DUI offender:

  •  11 months, 29 days supervised probation;
  • 24 hours of community service; and
  • Participation in an alcohol and drug treatment program.

What is an implied consent violation?

If the police suspect you of driving under the influence, they can ask you to submit to further testing – i.e. a breath or blood test. Just by driving on a road in Tennessee, the law presumes that you have agreed to take a breath test. So, if you refuse, you violate the implied consent law. The punishment is suspension of your license for one year, but you may still be able to receive a restricted license. For information on how to obtain your restricted license, see the section below titled, “Can I still drive if I am convicted of a DUI.”

How much will my DUI cost me?

With towing, bail, attorney fees, probation costs, high risk insurance, courts costs, and license reinstatement, your first offense average costs could add up to $5,000.

Will my DUI be on my permanent record?

Yes. Once you plead guilty to a DUI, it becomes a permanent conviction on your criminal record. Currently, Tennessee DUI charges can never be taken off your criminal record. Tennessee law does permit charges that were dismissed and some substitute charges, i.e. Reckless Endangerment, to be erased or expunged from a criminal record after five years. Since implied consent violations are considered civil offenses, they are not eligible for expungement.

Can I still drive if I am convicted of a DUI?

Generally, yes. The Court may sign an Order for Restricted Driver License. You will only have 10 days from the date the order is signed to do the following:

  • Obtain SR-22 Insurance. You will need to show proof of liability insurance with the State by obtaining SR-22 insurance through an insurance company. This is a form of “high liability” insurance that most large insurance companies offer.
  • Have an Interlock Device Installed. The Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s website has a list of ignition interlock providers. Once your ignition interlock device has been installed you will have to wait up to 48 hours before going to a Driver Services Center to apply for a restricted license. This is because Driver Services cannot accept a paper copy of your installation report and so you must allow them time to electronically post the report.

After you obtain SR-22 insurance and have your interlock device installed, you will need to go to a Driver Services licensing center to obtain your restricted license. The Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s website also has a list of Driver Services Centers.

Remember you will need the following before you can apply for your restricted license at
a Driver Services Center:

  • Proof of interlock installation (the interlock company will submit this electronically into their database);
  • Proof of your SR-22 insurance; and
  • Your Order for Restricted Driver License from the Court.

When you apply, you will be issued a 90-day restricted interim driver license. The application is then sent to the Driver Services Central Office for review. Once the license is approved, the Restricted Driver License is mailed to the address on file. If you have any further questions, call the Driver Services Restricted License Information Line at (615) 251-5250.

How can an Attorney help?

Facing a DUI can be nerve-racking, embarrassing, and overwhelming. Our office has represented hundreds of individuals in the Tri-Cities community facing DUI charges. We have the experience and knowledge to protect your rights. We can fight to suppress wrongfully obtained evidence, negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors, and even take your case to trial if the facts are in your favor. To learn more about the ways we can help, or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today at (423) 926-9421.

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