Any night out could turn into a nightmare if you choose to drive under the influence. Picture this: After a fun happy hour with friends or coworkers, flashing lights appear in your rearview mirror. You pull over, and the panic starts. How big of a deal is a first-time DUI offense? What are the potential ramifications? How much could it cost you?

DUI penalties

If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above .08, you will be arrested for a DUI in Tennessee. Note that, as in most states, refusal to take a breathalyzer test also warrants an arrest. Tennessee enacts implied consent, meaning you agree to be tested for BAC when you get behind the wheel.

Further consequences can include the following:

  • 48 hours to 11 months in jail
  • For .20 BAC or more, minimum of 7 days jail time
  • License revoked, one year
  • Drug or alcohol treatment
  • Pay restitution to anyone harmed as a result of your driving, in the case of an accident
  • Fine of $350 to $1,500
  • Ignition interlock device

Between the potential associated costs of towing, fines, an attorney, increased insurance costs, court costs, treatment program fees and license reinstatement, you could be paying about $5,000 for a first-time DUI offense. Most of us don’t have that much in our emergency fund.

Next time you go out to the bar, remember that you can’t afford to drive under the influence. Safeguard yourself, others and your bank account by getting a ride home.