May 23, 2024

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

Between January 1 and December 24 of 2017, Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) arrested 7,323 drivers for driving under the influence (DUI). That staggering number is certainly even higher when you consider the number of DUI arrests for the holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Statistics like this highlight the importance of sober driving. And if you are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, it helps to know your rights.

If you’re wondering whether or not you should refuse a breathalyzer test, it’s important to understand the applicable Tennessee laws and the potential consequences for refusing a field test.

What Is Implied Consent?

Like many other states, Tennessee has what is called an “implied consent” law. Implied consent means you agree to take a breathalyzer test or other tests if a police officer reasonably suspects you of driving under the influence. Drivers in Tennessee automatically give their implied consent as a requirement of obtaining a driver’s license in the state.

The purpose of the breathalyzer test is to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In Tennessee, anyone found to have a BAC of .08 or higher is considered legally intoxicated.

Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer or Blood Test?

If you are arrested for DUI, you have the legal right to refuse breath or blood tests. State law does not force a driver to take field tests unless a search warrant is shown or a pressing circumstance requires it. Here are a few examples of exigent circumstances that could require a breath or blood test:

  • At the scene of an accident involving injuries or fatalities.
  • If a minor under the age of 16 is in the vehicle
  • If the driver has a prior DUI conviction on his or her record

What Are the Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer Test?

Refusing a breathalyzer test is an implied consent violation, which is typically a civil offense. However, there are conditions that can classify the offense as a Class A Misdemeanor.Even if a driver is found not guilty of DUI charges, he or she could face civil penalties for refusing a test.For example, refusing a breath or blood test could result in a license suspension for one year. Not surprisingly, the penalties are stronger for subsequent offenses. Likewise, serious consequences may be applied if an accident causes an injury or death.

If you are found guilty of DUI after refusing a field test, you are required to install an interlock ignition device on your car. Similarly, if you refuse the test and are later found guilty of DUI, you could be sentenced to nearly one year in jail and have your license revoked for one to five years.

Hire Our Skilled Murfreesboro DUI Attorneys Today

We understand the impact a conviction for violating the implied consent law can have on your life. An experienced DUI attorney from Kidwell, South, Beasley & Haley may be able to help you avoid the penalties associated with refusing a breathalyzer and resolve your case as favorable as possible. Call us now at 615-893-1331 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with a reputable Murfreesboro DUI defense lawyer.