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Driving to see fireworks on the Fourth

The coronavirus pandemic continues to force changes on all of us. The latest is the cancellation of the annual Fourth of July fireworks display here in Chattanooga. Fortunately, there will be traditional fireworks displays across the area, including in Athens (they’re promising a big show), Cleveland and Blue Ridge, Georgia (the display will be over the lake).

If you live in Chattanooga, all of those displays involve a roundtrip drive of 50 miles or more, which means you’ll be exposed to another Fourth of July tradition: the annual crackdown on drunk driving.

Every year, law enforcement agencies throughout the area put out extra patrols to look for DUI drivers. And each year, people get pulled over and asked by an officer to take a breath or blood test to their blood alcohol content (BAC).

Tennessee has an implied consent law, which says that everyone who drives in the state has implicitly given consent to be tested. So if you refuse to submit to the test, you can be found in violation of that law.

Punishment for a first implied consent violation is the revocation of your driver’s license for a year.

It should be noted that if you are tested and later convicted of DUI, the first offense carries punishments that can include a minimum of 48 hours in jail up to a year behind bars. Your driver’s license can be revoked for a year (though restricted licenses are available), you can be fined up to $1,500 and ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle at your expense.

Please be careful when you drive on the Fourth or any other day of the year. A DUI arrest can be overwhelming, especially for those who try to go through the legal system on their own.

State Bar of Georgia
TBA | Tennessee Bar Association
CBA | Chattanooga Bar Association
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