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What happens when you get a DUI in Tennessee?

Here's what you need to know...
  • If you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol in Tennessee, you could face severe penalties
  • To get car insurance coverage after a DUI conviction, you may have to search for companies that specialize in insuring high-risk drivers
  • It is important to follow all traffic laws and practice safe driving after getting a DUI so that you can regain a good driving record
  • You may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car to prevent you from driving after drinking
  • The best decision is to find another way home if you have consumed any alcohol

The state of Tennessee takes drunk driving very seriously and imposes fairly harsh penalties for drivers who get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

If you have a higher BAC, the penalties are even worse. You can save yourself a major headache and lots of expenses by never getting behind the wheel after drinking.

You will have to find auto insurance coverage that is available to high-risk drivers in Tennessee.

If you’ve gotten a DUI in Tennessee and need better auto insurance, start comparison shopping today by entering your ZIP code above!

DUI Laws in Tennessee

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Like many other states, Tennessee considers a driver intoxicated behind the wheel when a BAC is at .08 or higher. Also, drivers who have a BAC of .20 or higher will face even more severe penalties under the law, because this is an extremely dangerous state of intoxication for any driver.

If you are under the age of 21, you should not be consuming any alcohol according to the law. There is a zero tolerance policy in Tennessee for any driver under 21 years of age with a BAC of .02 or higher.

If you are a commercial driver, you will be in trouble with the law if your BAC is .04 or higher.

Commercial drivers typically drive larger trucks and carry many hazardous substances. Those dangerous substances could be a threat to public safety if the vehicle crashes.

Under state law, commercial drivers in Tennessee have an even higher duty than other drivers to make sure that they are alert and safe behind the wheel.

Breathalyzer Tests

If you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer for drunk driving in Tennessee, keep in mind that Tennessee is an implied consent state. Just by you operating a vehicle on public roads, police officers can assume that you will cooperate if they ask you to take a breathalyzer test for your BAC.

The police officer may administer a blood, breath or urine test, which must be completed as quickly as possible after you have been pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.

There are strict penalties for drivers in Tennessee who refuse to take a breathalyzer test when asked. You could end up having your driver’s license revoked for an entire year for the first offense and up to two years for the second offense.

DUI Penalties in Tennessee

The penalties for being convicted of a DUI in Tennessee range according to your BAC level and your prior record.

  • First Offense – You may spend between two days to one year in jail, have your license revoked for one year, be ordered to participate in an alcohol treatment program, pay a fine up to $1,500, and have an ignition interlock device installed in your car.
  • Second Offense – You may spend between 45 days to one year in jail, have your license revoked for two years, be ordered to participate in an alcohol treatment program, pay a fine up to $3,500 in fines, and have an ignition interlock device installed in your car.
  • Third Offense – You may spend one year in jail, have your license revoked for six to 10 years, be ordered to participate in an alcohol treatment program, pay a fine up to $10,000 in fines, and have an ignition interlock device installed in your car.
  • Four or More Offenses – You will have a class E felony, you may spend one year in jail, have your license revoked for eight years, be ordered to participate in an alcohol treatment program, pay a fine up to $15,000, and have an ignition interlock device installed.
  • Vehicular Assault – You will be convicted of a class E felony, have your license suspended up to five years, and serve between two and 12 years in jail.
  • Child Endangerment – You will have a class D felony, serve between two and 12 years in jail, and have your license revoked.
  • Vehicular Homicide – You will have a class B felony and have your license revoked for up to 10 years.
  • Aggravated Assault – For aggravated vehicular assault while driving intoxicated, you will have a class A felony.

Tennessee uses a license point system to keep track of driving records and monitor infractions. If you get 12 points or more within a one-year period, then you risk having your driver’s license suspended.

Getting points on your license usually means that your auto insurance premium will increase too. Points automatically drop off of your driver’s license after 12 months have passed.

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License Revocation and Suspension in Tennessee

Your driver’s license may be revoked in Tennessee if you commit a very serious driving offense or accumulate too many points or offenses on your license. You would no longer have any driving privileges.

On the other hand, your license could be suspended for lesser offenses. You may be able to drive on a restricted license during that time.

To get your license reinstated in Tennessee, you must be able to show that: 

  • All fines and court costs have been paid
  • You have filed an SR-22 certificate to show financial responsibility for insurance coverage
  • You have completed an Alcohol Safety Action Program

If you have been convicted of multiple DUI offenses, you may have to pay a $100 reinstatement fee, various filing fees, apply for a valid license, and complete all required programming to get your license reinstated in Tennessee.

DUI Precautions

After you have been convicted of a DUI in Tennessee, a judge may order that you have an ignition interlock device installed in your car, which measures your BAC level before you can drive.

This device would not allow you to operate your vehicle if your BAC level is at .02 or more, thus preventing you from repeating DUI offenses.

You, as the driver, would be responsible for the expense of installing and monitoring for this device, which can get quite expensive.

The state government may also put various sobriety checkpoints in place. If a police officer has a reason to believe someone is driving under the influence, they may administer a breathalyzer test at the checkpoint.

Insuring a DUI Offender

After getting a DUI conviction on your record, you may be forced to find a company that specializes in serving high-risk drivers. You might end up paying a bit more for coverage while the DUI is still fresh on your record.

If you maintain a good driving record, you may be able to return to a traditional insurance company after some time, which will help to lower your rates.

You should try to shop around as much as possible for different rates so that you do not pay more than you need to for coverage. You can seriously complicate your legal and financial situation if you try to drive without insurance after being convicted of a DUI offense.

If you find out that you are not able to get a quote for auto insurance from any companies in your state, you may have to contact the state department of insurance for what to do next. Given that auto insurance coverage is a legal requirement, the state department of insurance will be able to point you in the direction of a company to serve drivers in similar situations.

You may need to only carry auto liability coverage, because the rates tend to be very high in these situations. While your driving record is tarnished from your DUI conviction, you should, therefore, choose wisely when it comes to the type and value of the car you are driving.

Some auto insurance companies may offer you a discount if you can show that you are taking preventative steps towards not being convicted of another DUI offense. These safety measures include having a preventative tool installed in your car or completing a driving safety course.

Some Last Thoughts

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You should never get behind the wheel after consuming any amount of alcohol.

Getting a DUI can have a serious effect on your auto insurance options as well as many other aspects of your life.

You can avoid dealing with the many consequences of getting convicted of a DUI in Tennessee if you refrain from driving while intoxicated.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is more important than ever to shop around for affordable auto insurance options and to comply with all of the requirements of your sentence. If you drive without auto insurance after being convicted of a DUI, you may end up losing the privilege to drive in Tennessee for good.

Looking for better and more affordable auto insurance in Tennessee? Start comparison shopping today by entering your ZIP code below!

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