Tennessee First-Offense DUI

The fines, jail, and license penalties resulting from a first-offense DUI in Tennessee.

A first-offense DUI (driving under the influence) conviction in Tennessee generally results in a fine, driver’s license suspension, and a few days in jail. A number of factors can affect sentencing, but this article address the minimum and maximum penalties and consequences for a first DUI in Tennessee.

Criminal Penalties

A DUI is a first offense in Tennessee if the driver has no prior DUI convictions that occurred within the past ten years. Ultimately, it’s up to the judge to determine the actual fines and jail time within the following parameters.

Jail time. A first-offense DUI generally requires a minimum of 48 hours in jail. But if the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .20% or greater, the minimum jail time is seven days. And if the offender had a passenger under the age of 18 in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the minimum sentence is increased by 30 days (so, it’s 32 or 37 days, depending on the circumstances). The maximum jail sentence for a first DUI is 11 months and 29 days.

A judge can allow a first offender to serve jail time under work-release—meaning, the person can continue working during the day and return to jail each night.

And in some jurisdictions, offenders can complete 400 hours of community service in lieu of the 48-hour and seven-day jail minimums.

Highway cleanup. After the offender completes the minimum jail time, the judge can order the offender to perform highway cleanup or to work at a recycling center in lieu of or in addition to the other penalties.

Probation. After the minimum jail sentence is served, the judge can suspend the remaining jail term and place the driver on probation. As a condition of probation, the offender will generally have to complete a substance abuse assessment and DUI education course.

Fines. A person who’s convicted of a first DUI must pay a fine of $350 to $1,000.

Driver’s License Suspension

In addition to the penalties listed above, the judge will suspend the driver’s license for one year.

Restricted license. The judge can grant a temporary restricted license, which allows the driver to operate a vehicle for work, school, or treatment purposes.

Ignition interlock device. Upon issuance of a restricted license, the judge might also require that the driver use an ignition interlock device (IID) during the suspension period.

Talk to an Attorney

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in Tennessee, it’s a good idea to talk to a DUI lawyer. DUI law is complicated and the facts of each case are different. A qualified DUI attorney can tell you how the law applies to your case and help you decide on the best course of action.

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