Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I was arrested last night for an underage Tennessee DWI. I was wondering what the penalties will be and what steps I should take now?”
Tennessee DWI what is the law?
In the State of Tennessee, it is against the law for a person to drive or to be in physical control of any automobile on any public roadway or any other premise that is generally frequented by the public at large if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher.
More importantly, underage drivers aged 16 to 21 may be arrested and convicted of DUI if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.02% or higher.
A Tennessee DWI arrest at any age is a serious matter. In fact, states, under threat of withdrawal of federal highway funding monies, have passed zero tolerance laws for underage drinkers. Although you did not injure yourself or anyone else, state laws are severe enough that the hope is that you have learned your lesson and you will not drive under the influence again.
What will happen if I am convicted of a Tennessee DWI?
If you were operating a car with a very small amount of alcohol, even if there was no evidence of impairment, you can run afoul of the law. Information for the penalties for an underage DWI can be found in by reviewing Tennessee Statute T.C.A 55-10-415.
Penalties for a Tennessee DWI for minors age 16-17
- License revocation for 1 year
- No provision for restricted license
- $250 fine
- Court may impose public service work
- Pay public court costs
Penalties for a Tennessee DWI for minors age 18-21
- Potential Class A Misdemeanor charge
- Fines up to $250
- One-year driver’s license suspension, a period during which a restricted license is not available.
- Community service
- Potential incarceration for a period of 48 hours to 1 year
Other possible penalties include participation in an alcohol treatment program, restitution, driving safety classes, and installation of an ignition interlock device. If, however, the minor is involved in an accident and injures another person the fines and penalties can be substantially increased.
Steps to take after a Tennessee DWI
Now, you asked what you should do now. Unfortunately, many minors just sit back and wait for their parents to handle the problem or they don’t do anything. One of the first things you should do is to contact a DUI lawyer and discuss your case.
Tennessee Lawmakers run afoul of the zero tolerance laws
On a related note, it was announced today that Tennessee lawmakers have had to repeal an underage drunken driving law which increased the illegal BAC for drivers age 18 to 20 from 0.02% to 0.08%,
According to reports the state was about to lose 8 percent of its federal road funding money on Oct. 1, 2016, before Governor Bill Haslam called lawmakers into a special session to reinstate the 0.02% rule.
It is important for drivers of all ages to understand their state’s DUI laws. It’s also important to stay abreast of any changes to Tennessee DWI laws.
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