One of the first questions I’m asked when I meet a client charged with a DUI is: “What’s the punishment in Tennessee for a DUI?” The short answer is, “It depends.” It depends on the facts and evidence of each case and it depends on a person’s criminal history; if any.
Under Tennessee Driving Under the Influence law (T.C.A 55-10-401) a first offense (DUI 1st) is an A misdemeanor that is punishable by a mandatory minimum fine of $350 but you may be fined of up to $1,500, loss of driver’s license for one (1) year, and a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 48 hours with a maximum potential jail sentence of 11 month 29 days.
However, Tennessee law has a concept known as “Enhanced Punishment” for determining the minimum punishment for someone who has multiple DUI convictions. In other words, when Tennessee’s lawmakers drafted our law, they used the basic premise that the more DUI convictions a person has the worse the punishment should be.
Below is a table I created so you can get a quick glance at Tennessee’s DUI law. The table begins with the statutory punishment for a Driving Under the Influence, First Offense (DUI 1st) and proceeds to show how the concept of “Enhanced Punishment” applies for each subsequent DUI conviction.
As you can see, “Enhanced Punishment” eventually increases the offense level of a DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony, increases the mandatory minimum jail time, raises the fine range, and extends the loss of driver’s license penalties. The minimum sentence for a DUI can vary depending on the severity of the charge.
This table is intended to be a quick reference and general introduction to the varying ranges of punishment in Tennessee for DUI offenses. This table is not legal advice.
If you have been charged with a DUI offense you should consult an attorney for a thorough review of your specific situation so that you can have a knowledgeable advocate properly advise you of your rights, evaluate the evidence and any possible defenses, and evaluate your exposure to criminal punishment.
|Offense||Offense Level||Mandatory Min. Jail Time||Max. Jail Time||Fine Range||Loss of Driver’s License|
|DUI (1st)||Misdeameanor||48 hours||11 months 29 days||$350 to $1,500||1 year|
Enhanced B.A.C. is 0.20% or higher
|Misdeameanor||Increases from 48 hours to seven (7) days||11 months 29 days||$350 to $1,500||1 year|
|DUI (2nd)||Misdeameanor||45 days||11 months 29 days||$600 to $3,500||2 years|
|DUI (3rd)||Misdeameanor||120 days||11 months 29 days||$1,100 to $10,000||6 to 10 years|
|DUI (4th or 5th)||E Felony||150 days||1 year to 6 years||$3,000 to $15,000||8 years|
|DUI (6th or more)||C Felony||150 days||3 years to 15 years||$3,000 to $15,000||8 years|