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Frequently Asked Questions About DUI in Tennessee

What is the implied consent law in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, anyone who drives a vehicle is deemed to have given consent to have a chemical test on their blood, breath or urine to determine their alcohol content. Again, before an officer may request a chemical test, he must have reasonable cause for believing that you were driving under the influence. If the court finds that you are in violation of the implied consent law, your license will be suspended for one to five years depending upon the specific circumstances of your case. If you violate the implied consent law while driving on a suspended license, a license that has been revoked for vehicular assault, vehicular homicide or aggravated vehicular homicide, the violation will be classified as a Class A misdemeanor and you will face a minimum sentence of five days and a maximum of eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail and a fine of up to $1000.

Can I be stopped and arrested for DUI even if the vehicle was not moving?

Yes, in Tennessee the prosecution need not show that the offender was actually driving the car at the time of the DUI 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.

Do I have the right to talk to an attorney before I give a sample?

No, in Tennessee a motorist does not have the right to speak with an attorney before making the decision of whether or not to submit to a chemical test.  Further, if you delay in giving your consent to a chemical test, this may be deemed as a refusal and you may be charged with an implied consent violation.

Do I have to give a blood or urine sample?

In Tennessee, you do have the right to refuse a chemical test. Given the implied consent law, if you are driving a vehicle, you are deemed to have given consent to a chemical test to determine the alcohol or drug content of your blood. However, state law also provides that a motorist can refuse to submit to a chemical test. If you do choose to refuse a chemical test, keep in mind that you will be subjected to a one to two year license suspension for violating the implied consent law.

Do I have to submit to a field sobriety test?

No, you are not required to submit to a field sobriety test at the request of a police officer. However, the police officer is also under no obligation to inform you that field sobriety tests are optional.

What happens if I am found to be driving on a suspended license after my DUI conviction?

Driving on a suspended license after your license has been revoked for a DUI charge will be charged as a new misdemeanor crime. Penalties may include fines, jail time and an additional license suspension of one year. Thus, it is it important not to drive on a suspended license after a DUI conviction.

What happens if you are an out-of-state driver convicted of a DUI in Tennessee?

If your driver’s license is suspended in Tennessee and you are from another state, Tennessee has no jurisdiction over licenses issued by other states. Further, Tennessee is not among the forty-five states that are members of the Driver License Compact. The compact states report out-of-state DUI’s to the motorist’s home state. However, even though Tennessee is not a member of the Driver’s License Compact, your home state will still likely learn of your DUI conviction. Further, if your home state does learn of the conviction, your license will most likely be revoked there as well.

What happens if you miss your Tennessee court appearance?

You should avoid missing any court appearance. At a minimum the Tennessee court will likely issue a warrant for your arrest (bench warrant) and you may also face new criminal charges for failing to appear.


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