What Circumstances May Warrant a License Suspension in Tennessee?

driving at night

In many states, you may have your license suspended if you are charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (a charge often abbreviated to DUI). In fact, in Tennessee specifically, you may lose your license in via two separate processes: administratively and criminally. Please read this blog carefully to understand the ways in which a Tennessee driver’s license may be revoked, as well as how long a revocation may last. Keep in mind that if you have been charged with a DUI, one of the best ways you can prepare is to call a Memphis DUI defense lawyer today.

Administrative License Suspension in Tennessee

Entirely separate from your criminal trial, your license may be suspended through an administrative process. The Tennessee Department of Safety may suspend a driver’s license as a civil penalty for a drug or alcohol-related driving offense.

The Department of Safety may also suspend your driver’s license for refusing to take a breathalyzer test. Refusing a test is illegal because of Tennessee’s implied consent law, which states that by just by driving on Tennessee roads, drivers agree to take a breathalyzer or blood test if it is ever asked of them. License suspensions for refusing a blood or breathalyzer test can last up to one year.

License Suspension as Criminal Penalty in Tennessee

Since administrative license suspensions are civil penalties, you may have to deal with another license suspension on top of the administrative one, this time as a criminal penalty resulting from a DUI conviction. Notably, however, once someone is charged with a criminal DUI, the Department of Safety takes the additional step of revoking your driver’s license.

Tennessee License Suspension Penalties for Drunk Driving

Under Tennessee law, there are a few tiers of penalties for those convicted of a drug or alcohol-related traffic crime, depending on the individual’s prior history of similar offenses. This includes license revocation as imposed by the Department of Safety.

For your first DUI offense, your license may be revoked for one year. A second DUI offense can lead to a two-year license revocation. A third DUI offense, however, increases the penalties to potentially a six-year license revocation. Then, if someone commits another DUI offense, for the fourth and all subsequent times, their license may be revoked for eight years. When aggravating factors are present, courts may award even longer sentences, extending the license revocation even further.

How Can a Revoked License Be Reinstated?

Driver’s licenses are a key part of day-to-day life in the modern era, whether we need to drive for household errands, school, work, or leisure. In recognition of this, Tennessee law allows drivers convicted of a DUI to apply for what is called a restricted driver’s license, provided the driver does not have a record including convictions for crimes like (aggravated) vehicular assault or (aggravated) vehicular homicide, which involve death or serious injury. Furthermore, as a precondition for a restricted license, you must install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car.

For those who either cannot apply for a restricted license or whose license revocation period is almost over. To restore your license, you will apply for a new Tennessee driver’s license and pay all associated fees, as well as all your court fees and any applicable restoration fees. Once this is done, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security will in turn permit your license to be reinstated.