Tennessee, like the majority of states, possesses what's known as an implied consent law. This particular law deems that anyone who operates an automobile in the state of Tennessee has given consent to a blood or breath test to determine the alcoholic or drug content in their system. The test is given at the direction of a police officer, plus they must have probable cause to believe the individual had been driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In spite of the "reasonable grounds" terminology, a higher court in Tennessee has ruled that in order for the punishment of refusal to apply, the police officer must determine probable cause to believe a driver has consumed alcohol, and the driver must have a blood alcohol content greater than .08.
What If I Refuse A Chemical Test?
Before the test, there has to be a perception that the motorist has been under the influence. Refusal to undergo the test will result in suspension of the driver's license, and the motorist must be advised of this before the test. For a first driving under the influence offense in Tennessee, the individual's driver's license is usually suspended for one year.
Refusing a test is a violation of the Tennessee implied consent law, though is not a criminal offense but instead a civil forfeiture. The only penalty is that the individual's driver's license will be suspended for one year (or longer, depending on circumstances or prior convictions). There isn't any jail time or fine.
Therefore, a driver has the right to refuse to submit to the blood or breath test, but the right is not absolute. Whether or not the driver is acquitted of "drunk driving," and the charge is dismissed or reduced, he or she could still be found in violation of implied consent law and can have his or her driver's license suspended. Even so, the driver may apply for a restricted driver's license.
Know Your Rights By Calling A Skilled Lawyer First
As in all driving related criminal cases, the best results are obtained when you contact a Tennessee attorney like Marcos Garza who is dedicated to handling Tennessee DUI, vehicular assault and other driving cases as soon as possible. Call toll free at 888-DUI-CALL (865-329-6982) or locally in the greater Knoxville area at 865-329-6982 as soon as possible.