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Understanding implied consent in Tennessee

| Mar 15, 2017 | Drunk Driving |

If you are pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving, it can be tempting to refuse to go along with the testing methods that law enforcement tends to use, especially if you understand the shortcomings in those tests that often lead to the accusation of innocent drivers. The fact is, though, that Tennessee, like every other state, has an implied consent law that imposes strict penalties on drivers who refuse to cooperate with law enforcement when a test is requested.

How implied consent works

The legal theory behind implied consent is relatively simple, and it has generally been accepted by courts throughout the country as valid. Since the right to drive a motor vehicle is not a protected right but a privilege that the state grants to those who agree to abide by its licensing procedures, people who are licensed to operate those vehicles must abide by the state’s rules to maintain a valid license. This means that if any driver refuses a test for driving while under the influence of substances, the state may impose a penalty.

Tennessee’s implied consent law

While every state has penalties in place that require drivers to participate in DUI testing for breath, blood and urine at the request of an officer, the penalties for refusal are different everywhere. In Tennessee, refusing a breath test, blood test, or urine sample means the following may occur:

  • A license revocation of one year for the first refusal
  • Revocation for two years for a second refusal
  • Revocation for two years for any crash resulting in bodily injury
  • Revocation for five years if the crash resulted in death

These penalties make Tennessee one of the states with the most diverse and nuanced implied consent law because many states do not provide additional implied consent penalties based on accident status. This can have major repercussions for those charged with DUI.

What to do

If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the best choice is to take the test and then prepare yourself to fight the results if you believe they are inaccurate. There is a number of DUI defense strategies available to those who are wrongly accused, and an experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to help you decide on the right one.

Whenever you have been arrested, it is important to talk to a lawyer right away. This protects your rights, helps you ensure that your defense will be effective, and gets you back out to your friends and family as quickly as possible.