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Tennessee DUI Laws

In order to be convicted of a DUI in Tennessee, the government is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was (1) driving, operating or in physical control (2) of a motor vehicle (3) in any public area while (4) under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a BAC of 0.08% or greater.

Tennessee, like every other state, has a “per se” intoxication law and anyone driving with a BAC of 0.08% or greater is considered intoxicated under the law and no other additional proof of impaired driving is necessary.

It is also important to keep in mind that in order to prove the first element (driving, operating or in physical control), the prosecution need not show that the offender was actually driving the car at the time of the arrest. Being in “physical control” of the vehicle could simply mean sitting in the car while parked. It is enough that you became impaired and subsequently placed yourself in a position to put the vehicle in motion.

In Tennessee, you can be arrested for a DUI in two ways: if your driving appears to be impaired or you have a BAC of 0.08% or greater. A police officer may pull you over and arrest you even without a BAC test if you appear to be driving impaired regardless of what your BAC level was. Impairment can be due to alcohol or drugs, and this applies to prescription drugs even if prescribed by your doctor.

The other way to be arrested is if your BAC was 0.08% or greater after conducting a chemical test. Even if your driving is not erratic or dangerous and you appear to be driving safely, you will be convicted of a DUI if you have a BAC of 0.08% or greater according to Tennessee’s “per se” intoxication law. If either of these situations are applicable you can be arrested for a DUI in Tennessee.


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