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Lannom Williams Law Group - Providing criminal defense and civil trial practice for Wilson County, Tennessee

137 Public Square
Lebanon, TN 37087
615.444.2900
FAX (615) 444-6516
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Can the Police Force Me to Take a Blood Test or Breathalyzer?

Tennessee currently criminalizes a person's refusal to consent to a blood or breath test at the request of law enforcement in most situations. The refusal can carry up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a suspension of their driving rights.  In Birchfield vs. North Dakota, the United States Supreme Court found that taking a person's blood is an intrusion pursuant to the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. Therefore, criminal penalties for refusing a blood test were unconstitutional.  The court also suggested a person's consent should be reconsidered if they waived their constitutional rights under the faulty threat of jail time for failure to comply.

The court found that breath tests aren't as intrusive and blood test and found them to be permissable. Failure to consent to a breathalyzer test could, therefore, result in prosecution. The court differentiates between a civil sanction of losing your driving privilege and a criminal sanction of going to jail.  In this instance, criminal sanctions cannot be imposed for failure to give up your constitutional right.
  
What does this mean? It means your body, just like your home, is protected from intrusion by the government. Just as the government would not be permitted to prosecute you under the penalty of jail time for refusing to allow them into your home, they cannot prosecute you for refusing to consent to an intrusion of your body for a blood test.  When consent is obtained for a blood test through jail threats, the court deems the consent coerced, ineffective, and ultimately invalid. 
  
In Tennessee, it is my experience that warnings given to motorists about failing to consent to a blood test do not differentiate between who will go to jail or who will only lose their license. Based on this, any consent to a blood test obtained via threats of jail time may be improperly obtained. resulting in the test considered illegally conducted.

In defense of citizens accused,

Frank Lannom 





LANNOM & WILLIAMS
137 Public Square Lebanon, TN 37087
Via Phone: (615) 444-2900 Via Facsimile: (615) 444-6516 Toll Free: (866) 820-4457

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