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Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Limits in Tennessee


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In Tennessee, the legal limits and regulations surrounding blood alcohol content (BAC) are crucial for drivers to understand to avoid driving under the influence (DUI) charges. Here’s an overview of the key points regarding BAC in Tennessee:


Legal BAC Limits in Tennessee


  • General Drivers - The legal BAC limit for drivers aged 21 and over is 0.08%. If a driver’s BAC is 0.08% or higher, they can be charged with DUI.

  • Commercial Drivers - For drivers holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the legal BAC limit is 0.04%. Higher standards apply due to the potential risks associated with commercial vehicles.

  • Underage Drivers - For drivers under the age of 21, Tennessee has a zero-tolerance policy. The legal BAC limit is 0.02%. Any detectable alcohol level can result in DUI charges.


Penalties for DUI


Penalties for DUI in Tennessee vary depending on the number of offenses and the BAC level at the time of arrest:

  • First Offense

    • Jail Time: 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days (minimum of 7 days if BAC is 0.20% or higher)

    • Fines: $350 to $1,500

    • License Suspension: 1 year

    • Other: Possible participation in an alcohol treatment program, ignition interlock device installation

  • Second Offense

    • Jail Time: 45 days to 11 months and 29 days

    • Fines: $600 to $3,500

    • License Suspension: 2 years

    • Other: Mandatory ignition interlock device installation, vehicle seizure

  • Third Offense

    • Jail Time: 120 days to 11 months and 29 days

    • Fines: $1,100 to $10,000

    • License Suspension: 6 years

    • Other: Mandatory ignition interlock device installation, vehicle seizure

  • Fourth and Subsequent Offenses (Class E Felony)

    • Jail Time: 150 days to several years (depending on the specific circumstances)

    • Fines: Up to $15,000

    • License Suspension: 8 years

    • Other: Mandatory ignition interlock device installation, vehicle seizure


Aggravating Factors


Certain aggravating factors can increase the severity of DUI penalties:

  • High BAC**: A BAC of 0.20% or higher results in enhanced penalties.

  • Child Endangerment**: Driving under the influence with a passenger under 18 years old can lead to additional charges and penalties.

  • Accidents and Injuries**: DUI resulting in an accident, injury, or death can result in more severe charges, including vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.


Implied Consent Law


Tennessee’s implied consent law states that by operating a vehicle, drivers have implicitly agreed to submit to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) if suspected of DUI. Refusal to submit to testing can result in:

  • First Refusal: 1-year license suspension

  • Subsequent Refusals: 2-year license suspension


DUI Checkpoints


Tennessee law permits DUI checkpoints, where officers can stop vehicles to check for signs of intoxication. These checkpoints must comply with specific legal standards, including proper notification and neutral selection criteria for stopping vehicles.


Seeking Legal Help


If charged with DUI, it is crucial to seek legal representation. An experienced DUI attorney can help navigate the legal process, potentially challenge the evidence, and work towards the best possible outcome in your case.


If you've been charged with DUI or have questions related to BAC, reach out to William Cain by clicking below.



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