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What Parents Should Know About Underage Drinking and Driving Laws in Tennessee

 Posted on February 10,2023 in DUI/DWI/BUI

Union County Drunk Driving LawyerAs a parent, you probably hope that your child makes good decisions. Unfortunately, many young people experiment with alcohol before they are old enough to do so legally. Teens and young adults in this situation may face consequences that include the suspension of their driver’s license, fines, and other penalties.

If you or your child are facing administrative consequences or criminal charges related to drinking and driving, contact an experienced underage DUI defense lawyer for help.

Consequences for Under-21 Drivers Who Have Been Drinking

You may already know that the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in Tennessee is 0.08 percent. However, this limit only applies to drivers aged 21 or older. If a driver is under the age of 21, the legal limit is 0.02 percent. An underage driver found to have a BAC of more than 0.02 percent may be charged with the offense of “underage driving while impaired.” A charge for underage drinking is also possible. Charges for underage driving while impaired may also be filed if the underage driver is suspected to be under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicant, regardless of the BAC test results.

The penalties for underage driving while impaired generally depend on the age of the driver in question. A driver who is 16 or 17 years old and found guilty of underage driving while impaired is considered to have committed a delinquent act under the Tennessee juvenile justice program. The driver’s license will be suspended for one year, and a fine of $250 will be levied. Community service may be ordered as well. A driver who is at least 18 but under 21 years old and found guilty of underage driving while impaired is considered to have committed a Class A misdemeanor, and the same penalties will apply.

Driving Under the Influence Charges for Drivers Under 21

It is also possible for a driver who is at least 18 and under 21 to face “regular” charges for driving under the influence (DUI) based on the circumstances of the situation. For example, if the underage driver has a BAC of more than 0.08 percent, DUI charges are likely. The same is true if the driver shows signs of being intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. A first conviction on DUI charges, even for an underage driver, could result in up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a driver’s license revocation of one year, and fines of $1,500. Additional consequences are also possible depending on the details of the case. A first-offense DUI charge is usually a Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee.

Contact a Knox County DUI Defense Lawyer

If you or your child were charged with DUI or are facing possible consequences for DUI or underage driving while impaired, contact a Knoxville criminal defense attorney for help. The skilled team at Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney can provide the legal advice and representation you need. To schedule a free consultation, call 865-281-1000 today.


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