Being pulled over while you’re on vacation can suck all the fun out of your trip — especially if you are arrested for DUI. Nashville is a fun town, but Tennessee has little patience for drunk driving.
If you’re arrested for DUI in Tennessee, what can you expect?
First, you’re probably going to jail, and your car may be impounded. You may need to post bail to get out. You have a right to contact an attorney at this point, and you should do so right away.
The next step is the arraignment, where the charge is read to you and you are asked to enter a plea. Although you may think it makes sense to plead guilty or no contest at the arraignment, this is probably not in your best interest. Your DUI lawyer may be able to negotiate a lesser charge or lower penalties with the prosecutor, but only if you plead not guilty.
So, unless your attorney tells you otherwise, you should enter a plea of not guilty even if you think you were probably under the influence.
What are the penalties for first-offense DUI in Tennessee?
You’re considered a first-time offender only if you have never been convicted of DUI in any state or, depending on the circumstances, if your last conviction was many years ago. Tennessee’s penalties for first-offense DUI can include:
- 48 hours to just under a year in jail (at least 7 consecutive days if your blood-alcohol content was 0.20 or higher)
- A fine of between $350 and $1,500
- Driver’s license revoked for a year, although a restricted license allowing you to drive to work or school is available in many circumstances.
- Participation in a drug or alcohol treatment program
- Payment of restitution to anyone you injured or whose property you damaged
- An ignition interlock device installed at your expense (this costs at least $1,000 in the first year)
On top of these penalties, you will be out a significant amount of money. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, bail, court costs, license reinstatement fees, treatment, high-risk auto insurance and legal fees typically add up to at least $4,900.
When do I get to go home? How will my life be affected?
If you are convicted of DUI in Tennessee, you will have to complete all the penalties ordered by a Tennessee court. However, a DUI lawyer may be able to get some of the requirements, such as drug and alcohol treatment, transferred to your home state.
The stakes are high for out-of-state drivers in Tennessee. We strongly recommend contacting a DUI lawyer as early in the process as possible.