The United States Supreme Court hands down many rulings that ultimately impact laws here in Tennessee and across the country. Recently, the court ruled that law enforcement officials are required to obtain a warrant in order to draw a blood sample, but do not need a warrant for a breath test. The question becomes whether that decision will affect whether Tennessee drivers can refuse to submit to blood alcohol tests.
Many states make it a criminal offense to refuse to submit to a blood-alcohol test when a driver is suspected of being impaired. Furthermore, law enforcement officials in those states can force an individual to provide a blood sample. States in which this is currently the law will be affected by the recent ruling.
Here in Tennessee, it does not appear that the court's ruling will have much effect, if any. Refusing to submit to a blood-alcohol test is not considered a crime here. However, that does not mean that the refusal comes with no consequences. An individual's license can be revoked for a year because it is treated as a civil matter. However, if a driver who has a previous license revocation for a DUI refuses to submit to a blood test, a class A misdemeanor may be filed.
Criminal defense attorneys here in the state typically keep track of changes the law within Tennessee and at the federal level. This information can go a long ways toward assisting a client facing drunk driving charges. Fortunately, this ruling regarding blood alcohol tests appears to actually bolster a first time offender's right in this state to refuse to submit to a blood test if suspected of driving under the influence, even though it will not alter any administrative proceedings concerning one's license to operate a motor vehicle.
Source: wbbjtv.com, "Supreme Court hands down ruling on DUI blood tests", Eric Perry, June 23, 2016