Understanding drunk driving penalties in Tennessee

Tennessee drivers arrested for drunk driving should get the facts about the state’s strict laws and penalties for these charges.

Drivers in and around Chattanooga should be aware of how strict the state's laws concerning drunk driving really are. Mothers Against Drunk Driving notes that some people can be charged with felonies for DUI arrests. From challenges with field sobriety tests to long-lasting penalties, drivers face many challenges.

A recent news report from The Times News has brought to light the reality of quotas issued to state highway patrol officers for drunk driving arrests. This can only make the challenges that drivers face regarding driving under the influence more serious.

What penalties can result for first DUI offenses?

Drivers convicted of their first DUI offenses in Tennessee can be subject to the following penalties according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security:

  • Jail time between 48 hours and just one day less than 12 full months.
  • Fines as high as $1,500.
  • Revocation of driving privileges for up to 12 months.

The state also estimates other costs to be near $5,000.

What are the penalties for a second DUI offense?

Drivers who are convicted of second DUI offenses face stiff penalties. A second DUI conviction carries a mandatory 45 day jail sentence, which may be split in some circumstances between jail and a rehabilitation center. The license revocation period can be extended to 24 months and fines may be as high as $3,500.

What are the penalties for a third DUI offense?

A conviction for a third drunk driving charge results in the revocation of a driver's license for a period of six to 10 years. During this time, the driver will not be eligible for a restricted license. Fines up to $10,000 can be assessed. The court can seize a vehicle owned by the driver. Jail time carries a mandatory term of 120 days.

What are the penalties for a fourth DUI offense?

At this point, a driver can be charged with a felony and faces a mandatory 150 days of continuous confinement. In addition to potential vehicle forfeiture, the convicted driver may be forced to pay as much as $15,000 in fines.

What other penalties can be enacted?

Regardless of whether or not prior offenses are on record, drivers may be required to use ignition interlock devices once they are allowed to drive again. The costs associated with IIDs are the responsibility of the driver.

Help is important

It is vital that drivers who are arrested for drunk driving know that they can get help. Contacting an attorney soon after an arrest is recommended.

Keywords: drunk driving, DUI, arrest, penalties