When you see the dreaded flashing lights behind you, one of the things you need to think about is Tennessee’s implied consent law. In addition to penalties for driving violations and driving under the influence, you can also face penalties if you break Tennessee’s implied consent law when you’re investigated for drunk or drugged driving. Sometimes, an implied consent violation will result in painful penalties even where there is no driving under the influence conviction.
In Tennessee, if the police suspect you of drunk or drugged driving, they can ask you to submit to a chemical test. This can be a blood, breath or urine test. Just by driving on a road in Tennessee, the law presumes that you’ve agreed to take this test. In the vast majority of East Tennessee cases, law enforcement asks the driver to submit to a blood test.
If you don’t take the chemical test when law enforcement asks you to, you face administrative penalties whether or not you’re convicted of a crime. For a first offense without any aggravating factors, you face a license suspension for one year. This suspension can be imposed even if the underlying driving under the influence charge is dismissed or reduced.
In cases where there’s a car crash and a victim suffers serious bodily injury, anyone who refuses to face a chemical test faces a license revocation of two years. In the event that a victim dies in a crash, any driver in the crash faces a suspension of five years for refusing a chemical test.
When a crash occurs and a suspected drunk driver is unconscious, they may take the driver’s blood even though the driver can’t affirm their agreement to take the test. Once they take the unconscious driver’s blood, law enforcement can’t use the results of the test unless the driver consents to have the test results admitted in court. If the driver refuses to have the results used against them, they’re in violation of the implied consent law, and they face the corresponding license suspension.
If you refuse a chemical test, there are things that you may be able to do in order to lessen the damage. In some cases, you’re eligible to receive a restricted license. That’s the case if no one got seriously hurt because of your driving. If you get a restricted license, the court will ordinarily require that you operate a vehicle with an ignition interlock installed. Less commonly, the court may permit you to drive without an ignition interlock device, but only on specific days and times, and only to and from employment, school, probation appointments, religious services, and a few other places.
A restricted license is within the judge’s discretion. That makes it important to carefully build your case about why you’re eligible for a restricted license. In addition, you can work with your attorney to pursue a plea bargain that also takes into account the criminal charges against you as well as the implied consent allegations.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, give us a call for a free consultation, and we will walk you through your options and determine the best way to proceed to protect your rights.