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Penalties for drunk driving in Tennessee

At the law office of Pryor, Priest and Harber, we appreciate how difficult it can be for Tennessee residents to recover from accidents caused by drunk drivers. Such collisions may leave victims with serious physical injury, financial loss and psychological trauma. While nothing can undo the harms of a drunk driving accident, there are penalties for those who drink and drive.

As the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security explains, there are severe consequences for those convicted of drinking and driving in this state. The fines and sentences associated with a DUI conviction will depend on whether the driver has prior convictions of driving while intoxicated.

First-time offenders will be sentenced up to 11 months and 29 days in jail if their blood alcohol content levels were less than 0.20. Their licenses will be revoked for one year, and they will be ordered to pay $350 to $1,500 in fines. Offenders with BAC levels higher than 0.20 will be sentenced to at least 7 days of jail time, which must be served consecutively.   

If a driver had one or two prior DUI convictions, the penalties will be more severe. The jail time, fines and license revocation periods will all be higher than they would be for first-time offenders.

Those with four or more DUI convictions will face class E felony charges. Convictions on such charges may result in a maximum prison sentence of one year. Additionally, the offender may be required to pay a $3,000 to $15,000 fine. An eight-year license revocation will also apply.

In addition to these criminal penalties, the victims of drunk driving accidents may be able to seek compensation through civil actions. For more information on the civil remedies available to drunk driving victims, please see our page on car accidents.  

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625 S. Gay Street
Two Centre Square, Suite 600
Knoxville, TN 37902
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