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Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer in Tennessee?

Man in car with raised hands refusing breathalyzer

When you’re pulled over during a late-night drive, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked to either perform a traffic sobriety test or use a portable breathalyzer. While you can, and should, refuse a field sobriety test, is it a good idea to refuse a breathalyzer in Tennessee? ‘

Implied Consent

Tenessee, like every U.S. state, has an implied consent law for DUI testing. This means that, by driving a car, it’s implied that you’ve agreed to submit to a breathalyzer test. However, that doesn’t mean you might be submitted to a test every time you’re pulled over.

The responding officer should have probable cause to conduct the test. For a requested breathalyzer test to be lawful, the officer should have reasonable suspicion that the driver is intoxicated. However, determining whether that probable cause exists might be best left to your attorney.

Penalty for Refusal

Because of implied consent, if you refuse a lawfully requested breathalyzer test, you might face license suspension or other charges.

The first time you refuse a breathalyzer test, you may face a 12-month license suspension. This increases by an additional 24 months if you had a prior DUI conviction or if someone was seriously injured in a crash. If both situations apply and you refuse a breathalyzer, you could face license suspension for up to five years.

Even if you’re not convicted of a DUI charge, you might still face penalties for going against the implied consent law. For that reason, you should carefully weigh your options when considering whether to refuse a breathalyzer. Also, remember that handheld breathalyzers can be inaccurate and that blowing a BAC (blood alcohol content) over 0.08% does not automatically mean you were unlawfully driving under the influence.

Because these situations of implied consent and BAC accuracy are complex, it’s a good idea to seek legal representation. If you’re ever arrested on DUI charges, be sure to discuss your case with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible!

To speak with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense attorney from Santel | Garner, call (615) 987-0268 or send us an email.