Between 6,000 and 7,000 arrests are made for driving under the influence (DUI) in Tennessee each year.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Tennessee, you might wonder if you should fight it or just deal with the consequences. A DUI is not a legal matter you should handle on your own. After all, a drunk driving conviction can result in more than just a sentence and a fine. It can put stress on your personal relationships and cause financial stress if you lose your job or end up having to pay higher insurance premiums. It also gives you a criminal record that will follow you for life.

Unlike many other states, Tennessee allows plea bargaining in DUI arrests. That makes retaining a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney a wise decision.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, time is of the essence. Let me get started on your defense and help you restore your life. At the Law Offices of Fisher Wise, I provide clients arrested for DUI in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the surrounding areas with aggressive DUI defense.

DUI Charges in Tennessee

The threshold for blood alcohol content (BAC) in Tennessee is 0.08% for noncommercial drivers and 0.04% for commercial vehicle operators. The state has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers. It takes a BAC of only 0.02% for a DUI conviction. These thresholds are enough for a “DUI per se” conviction, even if there is no proof of impairment.

You can also be convicted for being “under the influence” of other intoxicants, including marijuana, drugs, controlled substances, or any other substance that can potentially impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Drivers under Tennessee law give “implied consent” to submitting to a breathalyzer test if arrested lawfully for a DUI. Failure to submit results in automatic suspension of your driver’s license.



Possible Penalties

Penalties for a DUI are based largely upon age, blood alcohol content, and the number of previous convictions. In general, a first offense results in a lighter DUI penalty than a second offense, and a lower blood alcohol content results in a lighter penalty than a higher percentage.

First Offense

  • Mandatory minimum of 48 hours in jail (seven days if BAC is 0.20% or higher)

  • Sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail

  • Fines of $350 to $1,500

  • Revocation of driver’s license for one year

  • Mandatory completion of alcohol & drug treatment program

Second Offense

  • Minimum 45 days in jail with a sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail

  • Fines of $600 to $3,500

  • Revocation of driver’s license for two years with restrictions and ignition interlock device (IID) requirement

  • Potential confiscation of your vehicle

Third Offense

  • Minimum 121 days in jail with a sentence of up to one year

  • Fines of $1,100 to $10,000

  • Revocation of license for six to 10 years with no possibility of obtaining a restricted license

Fourth Offense or More

  • Felony charges

  • Minimum one year in jail

  • Fines of $3,000 to $15,000

  • Revocation of license for eight years with no possibility of obtaining a restricted license

There are additional DUI penalties for drivers who cause injury to others while driving drunk, for commercial vehicle operators, for drivers with passengers in the vehicle under the age of 18, and for drivers who refuse to take a blood-alcohol test.

In addition, if you obtain a restricted driver’s license, you will be required to carry special insurance which costs significantly more than normal auto liability insurance.

Possible Defenses

Depending on specific circumstances, there are ways an experienced DUI defense attorney can potentially defend you against DUI charges.

An attorney can potentially challenge the stop that led to your arrest or challenge the field sobriety test. If you have a physical impairment or disability, that can be used to defend your performance and perceived impairment. Your attorney may also be able to challenge the breath test based on other things you consumed or based on potential contamination of test results.


Whether this is your first offense for a DUI or your fifth, you need experienced and knowledgeable legal representation. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Chattanooga, Red Bank, East Ridge, Soddy-Daisy, or in Hamilton, Bradley, Marion, Sequatchie, Bledsoe, Rhea, or Meigs counties in Tennessee, call me at the Law Office of Fisher Wise to get started today.