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Tennessee uses criminal and administrative penalties to punish offenders who are convicted of DUI. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level in Tennessee is .08 percent, so any offender found with that level or above risks a conviction and penalties that include their driver’s license being revoked for a year. Some drivers may be eligible to regain their driving privileges with a restricted license if they install an ignition interlock device (IID). This guide will explain the interlock process in Tennessee.
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Tennessee offers the option of getting a restricted license to offenders if they install an ignition interlock device. This allows offenders to drive as long as they use the device, preventing them from offending again.
Tennessee has financial and administrative penalties for drunk driving. The state also increases penalties if there are certain circumstances, including a minor in the car or a BAC more than twice the legal limit (specifically, .2 or higher).
Tennessee has recently made some changes to their interlock policy and penalties for DUI. As of January 1, 2023, the interlock policy is compliance-based, meaning that offenders found to be tampering with, circumventing, or removing their IID can have their interlock usage term extended by 120 days. If an offender operates a vehicle without an IID, fails to report a broken IID or get it repaired, or misses a calibration, monitoring or inspection appointment, their IID usage term will restart and they will be required to serve 365 days from that date.
In addition to this change in interlock policy, the following penalties will be in effect for DUI offenders as of January 1, 2023:
There may be additional penalties and fines depending on the specific circumstances of the incident.
Refusing to take a breathalyzer test does not absolve offenders from penalties. This offense carries its own penalties.
Taking the test is generally a better option for all, especially for repeat offenders. People stopped for suspicion of DUI a second time who refuse the test a second time in five years may have driving privileges revoked for three years.
Tennessee allows offenders to get back on the road as long as they install an ignition interlock device from an approved provider. They also must meet other criteria, including:
There may be limitations placed on the restricted license depending on the circumstances of the incident, but the court can clarify.
Tennessee requires ignition interlock devices as a condition of regaining driving privileges. The devices keep the offender and the public safe because:
Offenders cover the cost of leasing a device in Tennessee, though the state does offer financial aid to eligible offenders. To get financial aid, you must apply and be approved. Typically, the cost of an IID is between $2.50 and $3.50 per day.
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Attorneys with DUI experience can help represent your interest in court. If you’re having trouble finding an attorney, we partner with several in Tennessee who may be able to help.