Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the State of Tennessee is a serious offense that carries with it some severe consequences. You may face criminal penalties if you have been arrested for DUI – penalties that can affect your future and your bank account. When it is all said and done, a DUI in Tennessee can cost you more than you are willing to pay.

The State of Tennessee has established a series of DUI laws that are designed to serve as a deterrent to individuals becoming first-time offenders and first-time offenders becoming repeat offenders. In addition to criminal charges, you will also have your license suspended with the DUI conviction. In addition, there are many exorbitant costs that are included with a DUI. Although these are lesser known penalties, they are severe and very impactful nonetheless to anyone who is not particularly wealthy.

The criminal penalties and fines

Getting charged for DUI is not just a matter of going to court and paying a fine. In Tennessee, a person charged with DUI based upon alcohol consumption is accused of driving a vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) in excess of the legal limit – .08 percent. However, Tennessee defines a DUI as driving under the influence of any substance that “impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of oneself that the drive would otherwise possess.” In some cases, you may be subject to penalties if your BAC is less than the legal limit of .08 percent, such as commercial vehicles or minors. An experienced DUI attorney can guide you through the complexities in the law that apply to your particular case.

The DUI penalties in Tennessee for first time and additional repeated offenses are as follows:

  • First DUI offense
    • Jail time – 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days
    • Fines – $350 to $1,500 max
    • Driver’s license revocation/suspension – 1 year
    • Administrative and court costs – $4,900 max
  • Second DUI offense
    • Jail time – 45 days to 11 months and 29 days
    • Fines – $600 to $3,500 max
    • Driver’s license revocation/suspension – 2 years
    • Potential vehicle forfeiture
  • Third DUI offense
    • Jail time – 120 days to 11 months and 29 days
    • Fines – $1,100 to $10,000 max
    • Driver’s license revocation/suspension – 6 years
    • Potential vehicle forfeiture
    • No eligibility to receive a restricted license
  • Fourth DUI offense
    • Charged with Class E felony
    • Jail time – at least 150 days up to 2 years for a Range I offender
    • Fines – $3,000 to $15,000 max
    • Driver’s license revocation/suspension – 8 years
    • Potential vehicle forfeiture
    • No eligibility to receive a restricted license

Fifth DUI offenses are Class D felonies carrying up to 4 years for Range I offender, and a Sixth DUI is a Class C felony carrying up to 6 years. If a DUI offense is committed with a child less than 18 years of age in the vehicle at the time of the offense, an additional enhancement of 30 days in jail will be added.

Additional costs with a DUI

Additional financial penalties are also imposed upon individuals convicted of DUI in the state of Tennessee. The court costs and administrative fees make the overall financial cost much higher than the fines designated for each DUI offense.

You can expect to incur additional costs that can cost thousands of dollars from the following items if you are convicted of a DUI in Tennessee.

  • Court costs
  • Ignition interlock system installation
  • Bail
  • Car storage/towing fee
  • Increased insurance rate
  • Fees for license reinstatement
  • Alcohol education program

An additional cost is the loss of employment and associated income you will suffer during your time in jail, assuming you have the opportunity to keep your job after you have completed your time. Otherwise, the financial challenges resulting from your conviction and time in jail may be even greater when you are released.

At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we understand how a DUI charge can shake you and leave you with uncertainty about your future. Our experienced Sevierville DUI attorneys have your back with strong advocacy and a thorough defense. We are able protect your rights from start to finish, pursuing an outcome that eliminates or minimizes your penalties. To arrange a consultation about your case, call us today at 865.280.3686, or fill out our contact form. We offer our representation services throughout the state, including in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Seymour.