First Offense DUI in Tennessee

Offenders charged with their first DUI in Tennessee face both criminal and administrative penalties.

Administrative Penalties

A first offense DUI arrest in Tennessee initiates a default process of administrative license suspension for a period of one year, unless the offender successfully contests impending suspension at an administrative hearing. Reinstatement following the suspension period may be contingent upon completion of alcohol/substance assessment, and/or treatment in limited instances for first offenders. 

If at the time of the arrest, the driver had a passenger who was a minor (person under the age of 15), refused to submit to a breathalyzer, or had a BAC above .15, he or she will be subject to ignition interlock requirements upon reinstatement of the license for a first offense.

Criminal Penalties

The typical first offense DUI cost

To get a basic idea of how much a first offense DUI will cost you, see our article on the cost of a DUI.

First offenders face a mandatory minimum incarceration period of 48 hours up to a maximum sentence of 11 months, 29 days. If the driver has a .20 BAC or greater, the minimum jail time is seven consecutive days. Fines applicable range from $350 to not more than $1,500. However, with towing, bail, attorney, high risk insurance, court costs, school, and reinstatement fees, the first offense average costs could add up to $4,900.

Courts may mandate both counseling and assessments related to alcohol and substance abuse. They may also mandate completion of an alcohol and driving education program. First offense DUI convictions will influence sentencing and charging of future DUI arrests for a period of 10 years.

Getting Legal Help

The state of Tennessee does not forbid plea agreements, which reduce a DUI charge to a lesser criminal conviction. Likewise, defendants, upon the advice of counsel and in light of the case-specific considerations, are free to actively seek outright dismissal, as well as other forms of favorable plea bargains. For more information and insight into defending your Tennessee DUI case, consult with a Tennessee DUI lawyer.

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