What are the Consequences for a DUI First Offense?

By Caitlin Kirk and Ryan C. Davis

Under Tennessee Code Ann. §55-10-401, “It is unlawful for any person to drive or to be in physical control of any automobile…(1) while under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system, or combination thereof that impairs the driver's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of oneself that the driver would otherwise possess; (2) the alcohol concentration in the person’s blood or breath is eight-hundredths of one percent (0.08%) or more . . .”

So after you’ve been charged with a DUI first offense, what does this mean for you? In Tennessee, a first offense for a DUI is punishable by a minimum of 48 hours to a maximum of 11 months and 29 days in jail. However, if your BAC is higher than a .20, the minimum jail sentence increases to 7 days. You may also be required to complete an Alcohol Safety School and Victim Impact Panel program by the Court. 

In addition to jail time, there is a minimum fine $350 for a DUI first offense, in addition to court costs. Your driving privileges will also be revoked for one year. However, you can apply for a restricted license with an ignition interlock device if your DUI was an alcohol related offense. If your offense was only drug related, you can apply for a restricted license with geographic restrictions. In addition to the criminal penalties, you may be required to purchase expensive SR-22 insurance, and the DUI could show up on background checks later on. 

It is important that your criminal defense attorney verifies that the police followed the proper law and procedures during the DUI investigation and arrest. Any mistakes made by the officers could affect whether or not there was sufficient probable cause for your arrest, or whether any evidence obtained can be used against you. How DUI cases are handled varies greatly depending upon the county your case is in and the local practices of the District Attorney’s office. That’s why it is so important to hire a criminal attorney that knows Tennessee laws and understands local practices in order to receive the best possible outcome for your DUI first offense. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, call our offices at (615) 649-0110 to ensure you receive a fair outcome in your case.

Click here for more DUI related education center posts.