Person driving a vehicle

First DUI

According to, law enforcement arrests about 1.5 million people each year for driving under the influence. Driving while intoxicated is illegal in the US, including in the good state of Tennessee. However, the penalties for drunk driving vary in each state. Factors such as if you’re a first-time offender and your driving history can determine the exact sentence. Sorting a DUI in Tennessee isn’t cheap, so if you’re a Tennessee resident this information is for you.

What are the Penalties for a DUI in Tennessee?

The penalties for a first DUI offense in Tennessee include:


The driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) usually determines how much jail time they’ll get for a DUI. Note that the blood alcohol limit in Tennessee is .08%, so anything over that means trouble. A first DUI offense doesn’t usually attract a sentence exceeding 11 months and 29 days.

First-time convicted DUI offenders with blood alcohol levels less than .20% can expect to spend 48 hours to 365 days in jail for a misdemeanor. If the driver has a blood alcohol level greater than .20%, they may get two to seven days in the county jail for a misdemeanor.

Having a passenger younger than 18 increases the severity of the offense. Hence, drivers can get additional time added to their minimum sentence. If the DUI offense results in injury or death of a child, they may face jail time of up to 2-30 years.

Driver’s License Suspension

A first DUI offense gets the driver a driver’s license suspension for a year. The judge may decide to impose a driver’s license restriction allowing the driver to drive to essential destinations such as work, hospital, or school only. During the suspension period, the driver may have to use an ignition interlock device (IID) on the judge’s orders.

When it’s time to get their license back, the offender will have to pay fees such as the $100 reinstatement fee and $50 financial responsibility (SR-22).

Fines and Restitution

First-time DUI fines may range from $350 to $1,500. The judge may also require the driver to pay restitution if the DUI offense caused damage to another party.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment

A drug and alcohol treatment program may be required by the judge. This treatment program aims to rehabilitate the driver and prevent repeat offenses.

If you’re ever arrested for a DUI in Tennessee, it’s best to seek legal counsel on the best course to take.