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  • Writer's pictureLucky Knott

Changes are Soon Coming to Tennessee's Law on Drinking and Driving

In the Volunteer State, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if the person's blood alcohol content level is 0.08% or more. 

After a first offense, the person is sentenced to at least two days in the county jail or workhouse, up to 11 months and 29 days. 

The current law states anyone convicted of a DUI for the first time with a BAC of 0.20% will face enhanced penalties. They will be sentenced to at least seven consecutive days in the county jail or workhouse. 

HB057/SB1055 will lower the BAC level to 0.15% for the enhanced penalties, starting on July 1, 2024.

The bill says based on information from the TBI, lowering the BAC level for first time offenders will subject about 85% more people to enhanced penalties. 

The map above comes from the Tennessee Department of Safety's website. It shows DUI-related crashes so far in 2024. The red dots indicate a deadly crash, and the orange dots indicate a crash with serious injury.

Across the state, the Tennessee Highway Patrol says about half of DUI crashes result in an injury or death, at a cost to the state of $97 million.

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