Tennessee officials passed a new law recently that prevents drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol from refusing to undergo a blood alcohol test. Under the new "No Refusal" law, Tennessee drivers suspected of DUI can be required to submit to a BAC test against their will.
Previously, under Tennessee's implied consent law, drivers stopped on suspicion of DUI in Tennessee could have their driver's licenses suspended if they refused to take a BAC test. This is because state law provides that all licensed drivers in the state consent by implication to undergo BAC testing in the event that they are lawfully arrested on suspicion of DUI. Drivers who refused could have their driver's licenses suspended for violating the implied consent law regardless of whether or not they were convicted of DUI.
No Refusal Law Allows Mandatory Blood Testing
Under the No Refusal law, when a driver refuses to consent to a Breathalyzer or blood test in Tennessee, law enforcement officers can ask a judge to issue a warrant to have blood drawn from the driver - even if he or she refuses to comply. The blood sample can then be used to test the driver's BAC, potentially supplying evidence to support a DUI charge against the driver.
During certain periods of heightened DUI enforcement, such as the Fourth of July or New Year's Eve, when DUI arrests are typically high, Tennessee law enforcement agencies keep judges and medical staff on hand to allow for immediate processing of warrants and blood tests for drivers who refuse to be tested at the time of the initial traffic stop. This approach allows testing to be conducted quickly, before the driver's BAC has time to decline, therefore increasing the chances that law enforcement will obtain evidence to support a DUI charge against the driver.
Supporters of the Tennessee No Refusal law believe that it will help prevent accidents and injuries by removing intoxicated drivers from the road and enhancing the state's ability to prosecute people suspected of driving under the influence. However, some civil liberties groups argue that the new law may place too much power in the hands of Tennessee law enforcement officers, potentially allowing warrants to be issued improperly on the basis of police bias. To be legally permissible, a warrant may only be issued when supported by specific, articulable facts that give the arresting officer probable cause to believe that a driver is under the influence.
Legal Help for DUI in Tennessee
Drivers facing DUI charges in Tennessee should seek help from an experienced DUI defense lawyer who will work hard to protect their rights and advocate for the best possible outcome to the case.