Did you know that if you are stopped for a DUI in Tennessee, that you have the right to refuse a chemical test? That’s right, you do not have to take blood, urine, or breathalyzer test if you do not want to do it! However, refusing will result in severe penalties because Tennessee has an implied consent law. So, what does this mean for you?
What is a Tennessee Implied Consent Violation?
When a person is arrested for DUI, Tennessee law mandates that the arrestee be designated to take at least one chemical test at the request of the arresting officer. The office can choose one or multiple tests. Implied Consent means that by simply refusing to take the test, you are in essence failing the test and are penalized for it.
What Happens if I Refuse the Chemical Tests in Tennessee?
A refusal of chemical test in Tennessee carries a very stiff penalty, escalating for more serious offenders. A first time offender will receive an automatic one-year license revocation. Second and third time DUI offenders will receive a two-year license revocation.
The penalties do not stop at a mere license suspension. Because of your refusal to take the test, you will be facing stiff fines and jail time. If your trial for DUI ends with a guilty verdict, you will also be required to use an Ignition Interlock Device on your car once the suspension is over even if you did not have any chemical test results.
Why Should I Refuse to Take a Chemical Test?
Without the chemical test, the only real evidence the prosecutor will have to use against you is the officer testimony and possibly a video (if the officer’s vehicle is equipped with a taping device). If the officer cannot make it clear as to why you were intoxicated and he or she had reason to stop you, you may be able to avoid an outright conviction for a DUI. However, please remember, even if you win the case, your license will still be suspended because of the refusal to take the test.
A situation such as this will give a good Tennessee DUI lawyer plenty of ammo to get his or her defendant completely off without any DUI charges. It is much easier to defend a case without any solid evidence. This is why we generally recommend that you politely refuse to take any roadside tests as well. If you are conceding the suspension, why give the prosecution ammunition to use against you by taking a videotaped roadside sobriety test?
How Do I Find an Experienced Tennessee DUI Attorney?
If you have refused to take the chemical tests, you will need to find a good DUI attorney in Tennessee to ensure that the only penalty you do receive is the license suspension. Here, you can have your case evaluated free as well as being able to research all DUI laws in your area.
Just as you would with an employee, you should interview all possible candidates once you have a short list of attorneys that you would like to defend you. Some important points to research are:
- Is the billing by the hour or is it a flat fee?
- Will there be any other costs associated with the case that are not included in the rate or fee?
- How successful has this attorney been in the past defending DUI cases?
- Find out the attorney’s opinion about your specific case and possible strategies.
- It is also important to ensure that DUI law is this attorney’s specialty.
We would really like to stress that last point that the attorney should specialize in DUI law. You see, there are plenty of attorneys that will take a DUI case, but how many of them actually specialize in this type of law? In addition to the feedback from the attorney during the interview, it is also a good idea to check online legal review sites to see what past clients have to say about each attorney. Ideally, you will also find feedback about cases similar to yours. This will help you gauge the success rate of the attorney for this specific type of case.
What Happens If I Am Arrested Again?
If you are convicted of a DUI, your second arrest and all subsequent arrests will result in escalating fines and suspensions. While these penalties marginally go up during the second offense, the penalties are much more severe for three or more offenses. Below, you will see the table with the progression of fines and penalties for all Tennessee DUI offenders:
- 48 days to 1-year jail
- 1-year license suspension
- $350-$1,500 in fines
- Ignition Interlock Device
- 45 days to -year jail
- 2-year license suspension
- $600-$3,500 in fines
- Ignition Interlock Device
- 120 days to 1-year jail
- 6 to 10-year license suspension
- $1,100 to $10,000 in fines
- Ignition Interlock Device
If you for some reason end up with four or more DUI’s, you will be charged with a Class F Felony, face 150 consecutive days in prison with a maximum sentence of one year, up to $15,000 in fines (minimum of $3,000) and your license will be suspended for eight years. In addition to this, you must attend a rehab program and your vehicle may be seized.
As you can see, Tennessee takes DUI very seriously. In fact, it is one of the toughest states in the United States for DUI penalties. Realize that in addition to the costs posted above, you will also be responsible for all costs associated with the IID (Ignition Interlock Device) installation and service. This can add thousands to an already expensive night out.
While we always recommend NOT drinking and driving, we do realize that many DUI arrests are an accident on the part of the individual being charged. Whether they thought that could handle their alcohol does not matter, all the authorities know or care about is if you are over the legal limit. If you would like more information regarding Tennessee DUI, your rights, and defense strategies, please fill out the Free Tennessee DUI Arrest Evaluation Form!