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What Are the Penalties for Underage DUI in Tennessee?

 Posted on November 08,2021 in Criminal Defense

Knoxville criminal defense for ExpungementIn Tennessee, just like in every other state in the country, the legal drinking age is 21. While it is against the law for anyone under 21 to consume or possess alcohol, the reality is that many do. This is especially true when it comes to college and social life. However, the criminal justice system takes underage drinking seriously and anyone under 21 who is caught with alcohol, especially in drinking and driving situations, faces especially harsh penalties.

Legal BAC in Tennessee

Under Tennessee law, anyone who is 21 years of age or older who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent is considered legally drunk. However, for anyone under the age of 21, the legal limit is much lower and DUI charges may apply if a person has a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher.

Penalties for Underage DUI

While the penalties for underage DUI may not be as harsh as adult DUI penalties, they still leave a permanent mark on the individual’s criminal record. For drivers who are under 18, the matter is deemed a delinquent act. If the driver is between 18 to 20, the crime is charged as a misdemeanor. Penalties for both categories are the same:

  • Loss of driving privileges for one year. No opportunity to apply for a restricted license.

  • A fine of $250

  • The court may order the individual to perform community service

Adults Who Provide Alcohol

Since you have to be 21 or older to purchase alcohol in Tennessee, there are also laws in place to punish those who purchase or provide alcohol for underage drinkers. A person who hosts a party or allows parties in their home where there is underage drinking faces criminal charges and penalties if convicted. While the statute itself does not specify what those penalties are, the crime is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, and could carry up to 12 months in jail and fines of up to $2,500 if the court feels that is an appropriate punishment.

Contact a Knoxville, TN Defense Attorney for Legal Help

If your son or daughter has been charged with underage drinking, a conviction can have a significant impact on their future. Call Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney at 865-281-1000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled Knox County criminal lawyers to find out what type of legal options your family may have to fight against these charges.



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