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The impact of Tennessee’s “implied consent” law on DUI cases

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Implied consent refers to a legal concept that you implicitly agree to certain terms simply by getting behind the wheel of a car. In Tennessee, these terms include submitting to a breath or blood test if a law enforcement officer suspects you of DUI.

Refusal to submit to a test can lead to immediate penalties. These penalties are separate from any potential DUI charges and can be imposed even if you are not ultimately charged or convicted of DUI.

Penalties for refusing a test

Tennessee’s implied consent law imposes strict penalties for those who refuse to undergo a breath or blood test.

  • The first refusal can lead to a one-year suspension of your driving license.
  • A second refusal within ten years results in a two-year suspension.
  • If an accident involving injury or death occurred, a refusal can lead to a two-year license suspension, regardless of previous refusals.

It’s important to note that refusing to consent to a test is not protected by the 5th Amendment. It can be one more piece of evidence that prosecutors can use against you.

Challenging implied consent violations

Just because you’ve been accused of violating the implied consent law doesn’t mean you’re without options. Defense strategies can include questioning the lawfulness of the initial traffic stop or the officer’s suspicion of your intoxication.

If the officer did not have a valid reason for the stop, any subsequent evidence (including refusal to take a test) may be inadmissible in court. Likewise, the officer must have reasonable suspicion of DUI to request a test. If this suspicion can be challenged, the implied consent violation may be invalidated.

You have rights even if you refuse a breath test.

Refusing a breath or blood test can lead to immediate penalties and impact the outcome of a DUI case. However, no matter the choices you make during your arrest, you have many important rights that must be proactively defended.

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