Tennessee motorists give up rights when they get a driver's license that may require experience defense counsel
A driving under the influence charge in Tennessee can lead to fines, loss of driving privileges and even incarceration for anyone who is convicted. The use of chemical testing of a motorist's blood, breath or urine to measure blood alcohol content provides key evidence that prosecutors use to obtain a DUI conviction. Before you consider refusing a police officer's request that you submit to testing, you should be aware that doing so could subject you to penalties even if you are not convicted of the DUI charge because of the implied consent law.
When a motorist is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the law gives the police the right to ask the driver to submit to a chemical test designed to measure the individual's blood alcohol content level. A BAC level of 0.08 percent is proof that the person is intoxicated. This is because the DUI law in Tennessee, as do the laws in all other states, makes 0.08 percent BAC the legal limit for intoxication.
Police officers processing a person arrested for DUI will ask the individual to submit to testing. The most common form of test conducted involves the analysis of a driver's breath after he or she blows into a machine that captures and performs an analysis of the sample. When police suspect that the individual's condition is the result of the consumption of drugs, then a blood sample will probably be requested. Even though the officer asks the motorist to participate in the test, it is not a request that a person is free to refuse.
Anyone operating a motor vehicle on state roads is deemed to have consented to submitting to a chemical test when requested to do so by a police officer. This is known as implied consent. The following conditions must be met when testing is requested:
- Existence of reasonable cause: The police officer making the request must have reasonable grounds to believe that the individual was driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Notice to driver: When a police officer asks a driver to submit to a chemical test, the individual must first be warned by the officer of the consequences associated with a refusal. These consequences include suspension of the person's license to drive, fines and mandatory jail or workhouse penalties.
- Release of test results: If a motorist is unconscious or is otherwise unable to consent to testing because of his or her physical condition, the police may proceed with chemical testing. When the person is capable of doing so, the police must request permission to release the test results to be used as evidence in the DUI case. Implied consent laws apply to this situation, so a refusal to release the results is treated the same as a refusal to be tested.
A test refusal under the implied consent law is charged as a violation of the law that is treated as being separate and apart from the underlying DUI charge. An implied consent violation is not a criminal offense unless the person was driving with a license that was revoked or suspended due to a prior conviction for DUI, vehicular assault or vehicular homicide. Under those circumstances, the charge is a class A misdemeanor punishable a mandatory jail sentence, license revocation, fines and probation.
For the individual with no prior record, the penalty for an implied consent violation is revocation of driving privileges for one year. A prior DUI conviction increases the license revocation to two years.
The loss of a license to driver for violating the implied consent laws is a hardship for most people. A Murfreesboro DUI defense attorney might be able to help you to obtain a restricted license. For more information about protecting your rights when charged with DUI or with an implied consent violation, contact the attorneys at Dotson & Taylor by calling 615-890-1982 or online to schedule a free initial consultation.