Tennessee: Underage DUI

The drinking age in Tennessee is 21 and consumption of alcohol by anyone under 21 is illegal except for religious purposes – for example, drinking wine with religious ceremony. Because underage drinkers cause a disproportionate number of alcohol-related auto accidents, the standards are stricter and the penalties may be harsher for those under 21.

More information about Tennessee’s teen driving requirements.

What constitutes driving under the influence?

If a chemical test determines that a driver under 21 has a blood alcohol content BAC of .02% or higher, the driver can be cited for driving under the influence. (For those 21 or older, the BAC is .08%)

What are the penalties?

There are some special rules for underage DUIs in Tennessee. Offenders may have to pay a fine of $250, and may be subject to a one-year driver’s license suspension and possible imprisonment for 48 hours. In addition, a First Drunk Driving Conviction may result in imprisonment (up to 11 months), fine ($350 to $1,000), license suspension (up to one year)(more information: First Offense DUI in Tennessee).

If Second Drunk Driving Conviction within 10 Years: imprisonment (45 days to 1 year jail) fine ($600 up to $3,500) license suspension (2 years). (More Information: Second Offense DUI in Tennessee.)

What if you refuse the chemical test? Read about Tennessee implied consent laws.

What other charges?

In addition to driving under the influence, an underage drinker may be charged with any of the following:

  • distributing alcohol to other minors (were there underage drunk passengers?),
  • minor in possession,
  • soliciting alcohol,
  • child endangerment law violations,
  • possession of false identification (was a fake id used to purchase alcohol?), and
  • moving and vehicle maintenance violations (what else did the arresting officer see?).

What happens to insurance?

Some insurance companies may terminate a policy after an underage DUI (while others refuse to renew). Most companies simply raise the cost of the monthly premium by $100 to $200 (sometimes higher) for a higher risk policy. The raise usually stays in place for three to five years. You’ll also probably need to furnish the DMV with an SR-22 certificate to reinstate a license after suspension (as proof of insurability). Most insurance companies furnish this form to the DMV. Check with your insurer to see if it performs this service.

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