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What Is Implied Consent in Tennessee?

Consent is a very interesting term in American law. Normally, we think of consent as a binding contract. It might mean getting a firm “yes” or putting a signature on a lengthy form. That’s partially what makes the idea of implied consent so intimidating. It’s difficult to comprehend how you could give consent without actually doing so.

What is implied consent in Tennessee, and what does it mean for you? Let’s find out.

Defining Implied Consent

By definition, implied consent means that a person does not give consent with their words but with their actions. Put another way, the law says that by driving a car, you consent to traffic stops and breathalyzer tests. Until a landmark Supreme Court Case, merely getting behind the wheel meant you agreed to a blood test as well.

Limiting Unreasonable Searches

Every US state has implied consent laws. However, in 2016 the US Supreme Court decided that both breathalyzer tests and blood tests fall under a “search” per the fourth amendment. They further decided that a blood test is intrusive as it requires piercing the skin, and therefore implied consent does not apply to blood tests.

That decision still holds true. No driver can give implied consent for a blood test. In Tennessee, you can refuse the blood test entirely unless the officer has a warrant. Obtaining a warrant is its own challenge which requires approval from a judge who believes there is probable cause.

Refusing a Breathalyzer

Anyone who refuses a breathalyzer in Tennessee could face serious penalties. A first refusal results in losing your license for a year. If you refuse a breathalyzer a second time, you will likely lose your license for two years.

Refusing a breathalyzer will only get you in trouble, even if you weren’t drinking at all. It’s safer to take the test, remain calm, and let your attorney handle the rest.

If you were accused of driving under the influence, you might need legal representation. If you’d like an experienced Knoxville criminal defense attorney from Eldridge and Cravens, PC to evaluate your case, please call (865) 544-2010 or send us an email.