Implied Consent and Blood vs. Breath Tests in TN
What is Implied Consent and how do you violate it?
The law, T.C. A. Code 55-10-401/406, says that if you operate a motor vehicle in Tennessee you have implicitly agreed to have your blood alcohol level tested. Violating the Implied Consent law is a civil, not a criminal offense (whereas a DUI charge is a criminal offense). The penalty for violating Implied Consent is losing your license for 1 year. In past years, you could be violated for refusing a blood test or breath analyzer test. Thanks to the Supreme Court, the law now cannot violate a citizen for refusing to take a blood test.
How was this handled in the past and what can we expect going forward regarding Implied Content Violations?
In 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued the landmark decision of Birchfield vs. North Dakota transforming the law surrounding implied consent. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision, the Tennessee Legislature totally overhauled the Implied Consent law. In years past, officers could request motorists to submit to either a breath or blood test if they had probable cause to believe the motorist was under the influence of any intoxicant, controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system, or combination thereof as prohibited by the Driving Under the Influence statute, T.C.A. §55-10-401. Now officers many only request motorists to submit to breath test as opposed to a blood test. Thus, officers may not violate a motorist for the offense of Implied Consent for refusing to take a blood test when requested.
How will DUIs and Implied Consent charges be affected in Lebanon and Mt. Juliet, Tennessee?
While a refusal of a blood test does not permit a violation of the implied consent law, this test is the preferred method of determine blood alcohol content of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department, Lebanon Police Department, and the Mt. Juliet Police Department. They primarily utilize their authority to request a search warrant requirement the citizen to submit to a blood test, by force if necessary. A judge of judicial magistrate can issue the search warrant based on an affidavit that probable cause exist to believe that evidence of the drivers impairment will be found in his blood stream. Armed with this warrant, the officer can then require submission to the blood test. Breath test are rarely if ever utilized in Wilson County, but are very common in Davidson County DUI cases.
If you are faced with a DUI and/or Implied Consent charge in Middle Tennessee, give me a call. I have the experience to protect your rights and preserve your freedom and I know the law.
In Defense of the Citizen Accused,