You may have heard people say that you have a right to refuse a breath test or a blood test when pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. In one sense, that is technically true. You can refuse to take the test. However, Tennessee does use implied consent laws. This means that you can still be arrested under these laws for refusing to cooperate with police.
Though being arrested under the implied consent laws is not exactly the same as being arrested for drunk driving, you can face the following penalties:
-- For a first offense, your driver's license can be revoked for a year.
-- For a second offense, you can lose your license for two years.
-- If you were also involved in a car accident that injured someone else, you can lose your license for two years.
-- If you were involved in a wreck that caused someone's death, then your license can be revoked for five years.
Naturally, these are the penalties simply for refusing to take the test, and you could face further fines and jail time for other offenses. For example, if you were involved in a deadly crash and you are convicted on manslaughter charges, you could get significant jail time on top of the five years of a revoked license for not submitting to the breath test.
It's crucial to know exactly what rights you have as a driver in Tennessee. If you're accused of breaking the law -- especially if you didn't know that you were breaking it and just thought, as many people do, that you were exercising your rights -- you need to know your defense options.
Source: Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, "DUI Offenses," accessed Feb. 08, 2017