Tennessee Statute for DUI covers Alcohol for Any Intoxicant

Tennessee Statute for DUI covers Alcohol for Any Intoxicant

Ms. Clark appeals her conviction of DUI and essentially asks the Court of Criminal Appeals to determine whether the term “any intoxicant” as used in Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-401(a)(1) includes alcohol.  It does.


In this case, the indictment originally varied from the exact language of the statute.  The indictment specifically referenced alcohol and Ms. Clark objected to that term.  After the trial court agreed with the objection, and redacted the word alcohol from the indictment, Ms. Clark believed that the state could only present other than alcohol proof at trial in support of this DUI prosecution.  The state contended that any intoxicant included, by definition, alcohol.  That difference is the basis of this appeal.


In reasoning that alcohol is within the meaning of intoxicant, the court noted that previous TN Supreme Court decisions have said “It is our opinion that the Legislature, in making it a crime to be in physical control of an automobile while under the influence of an intoxicant, intended to enable the drunken driver to be apprehended before he strikes."

Based upon the ordinary meaning of the word intoxicant in Webster's Dictionary, the use of the word intoxicant in the Tennessee Code, and prior case law, the legislature intended the term intoxicant to include alcohol.


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