Tennessee Underage DUI Laws

In Tennessee and throughout the United States, many high school and college students engage in underage drinking. However, such activity often leads to drunk driving.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that one in 10 teenagers in high school drinks and drives. Additionally, young drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are 17 times more likely to die in a car accident when they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent in comparison to driving sober.

Due to this continuous trend, all states have enacted specific underage DUI laws that apply to drivers who are under 21 years old. In Tennessee, a driver younger than 21 can get arrested for an underage DUI with a BAC level between .02 and less than .08 percent.

Although an underage DUI and a standard DUI (for adults who are at least 21 years of age) are both misdemeanor offenses, the latter is associated with harsher criminal penalties. However, if the driver is under 18, the offense is classified as a “delinquent act.”

Whether an underage DUI is a misdemeanor or delinquent act, the offense is associated with the following penalties:

  • Driver’s license suspension of one year (without the ability to obtain a restricted license)

  • A maximum fine of $250

  • Community service instead of jail time

On the other hand, if an underage driver has a BAC level of .08 percent or higher at the time of his/her arrest, he/she will be charged with a standard DUI. A conviction carries a maximum jail sentence of 11 months and 29 days, a fine of up to $1,500, driver’s license suspension for one year, and participation in an alcohol or drug treatment program.

Not only does a conviction of an underage DUI or standard DUI result in serious consequences, having a criminal record can negatively impact a young person’s ability to apply for college, find a job, or live a normal life. When facing a DUI charge, it is imperative to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.

If you or your child has been charged with a DUI in Clarksville, call Patton | Pittman Attorneys at (931) 361-447 or fill out our online contact form today to request a free case evaluation. Our trial-tested lawyers have more than 100 years of combined legal experience!

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