Tennessee Law allows one to refuse a breath or blood alcohol test in DUI cases. However, a driver of a car or truck involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of another, has committed a DUI, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicular homicide, the officer shall cause the driver to be tested for the purpose of determining the alcohol content of the driver's blood. The test shall be performed whether the driver consents or not. This also applies to those that have been convicted of a prior DUI in the state of Tennessee.
Tennessee law contemplates one can refuse a breath or blood alcohol test because there are consequences for the refusal. First, in order to ask someone to submit to a breath or blood alcohol test, the police must have reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving under the influence of alcohol, a drug, any other intoxicant, or any other combination of alcohol, drugs, or intoxicants. Secondly, the police officer must advise one what happens if you refuse.
Consequences for Refusing the Breath or Blood Alcohol Test
1) You will lose your driver's license for one year on a refusal. However, you can get a restricted driver's license.
2) If you refuse the test it is not a criminal offense pursuant to T.C.A. § 55-10-406 (4)(A).
3) If you refuse to take a breath or blood alcohol test your license and your license is suspended due to a DUI, vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicle assault case, you have committed a class A misdemeanor that carries a punishment up to 11 months and 29 days in jail with a minimum of 5 days incarceration. The Court can revoke your driver's license from 1 to 5 years, depending on your circumstances.
One additional consequence of refusing a breath or blood alcohol test is that if you go to a trial the court will instruct the jury that they could infer that the refusal to submit to a test could be held against you.
The Basics of the Implied Consent
1) Refusal is civil not criminal charge.
2) The constitution guarantees your right not to be compelled to give evidence against yourself.
3) The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation cuts corners on the integrity of forensic science. The International Association of Chemical Testing, which several members of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation belong, mandates 2 breath alcohol tests on all breath alcohol samples. Tennessee does not comply with the 2 test requirement. Further, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation does not require that manufacturers provide an owner's manual to the machine. Can you imagine buying a car without receiving the owner's manual?
These are just a few of the consequences of refusing to take a breath or blood alcohol test in Tennessee. For more information please call (615) 265-6383 or fill out the contact form on the website.