Every state contains its own set of drunk driving laws to protect all drivers on the road, and the details of each penalty can be complex and demanding. Tennessee’s laws regarding driving while under the influence vary depending on the number of offenses, existence of injuries and fatalities. Even a first-time offense can come with incredibly damaging consequences.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides statistical data of accidents in the state, as well as the percentage of those accidents that occur as a result of alcohol impairment. According to the NHTSA’s 2015 report, 31 percent of Tennessee’s 958 fatal motor vehicle traffic accidents involved alcohol at the blood alcohol concentration level of .01 percent. 26 percent of Tennessee’s fatal crashes were due to BAC levels of .08 percent. However, law enforcement considers drivers to be alcohol-impaired when their BAC levels .08 grams per deciliter or higher. This policy also applies to motorcyclists, and the term “alcohol-impaired” does not imply that a crash or a fatality was caused by alcohol impairment.
When it comes to the penalties for drunk driving accidents, the financial and legal costs can be overwhelming. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security lists the types of offenses related to drunk driving and the according penalties, stating that in the case of vehicular assault, a driver may face a Class D felony. Other penalties that can arise from a serious injury to another person by a DUI driver are license revocation from one to five years according to the number of prior offenses, jail time from two to twelve years and fines and court costs. Accidents involving vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular assault while driving intoxicated come with additional, often more pressing penalties.