Know the consequences should you refuse to take a breath test when pulled over for suspected DUI
Tennessee is an implied consent state. This means, if you are driving in the state, you have implicitly consented, and are thus required, to comply with a blood, breath, or urine test if you are arrested for a DUI. The law enforcement officer gets to choose which test will be administered and the test must be taken as soon as possible to ensure the most accurate results. Because of Tennessee’s implied consent law, you can refuse a Breathalyzer test, but you cannot do so without penalty.
If you are arrested for your first DUI and refuse to take a Breathalyzer test, your licensed will be revoked for one year and you will incur fines ranging between $350 and $1,500. If someone was seriously injured or killed because your DUI, there will be further consequences. If there was a serious injury, the license suspension will be for two years. If someone died, then your license will be suspended for five years. Additionally, the court will have discretion as to whether an ignition interlock device will be installed in your vehicle.
If you are arrested for your 2nd or 3rd DUI offense, your license will be suspended for 2 years. If you are driving on a license that was already suspended because you were the cause of an accident that left someone seriously injured or dead, then you will be required to:
- Pay a fine;
- Serve jail time; and
- If later convicted of DUI, an ignition interlock device will be installed in your car before you are allowed to drive again.
These offenses are civil, not criminal. You can always request a hearing to challenge the suspension of your license. If you can prove that the arrested officer failed to inform you of the consequences of refusing to take the test, the court will reinstate your license. You will also not be required to have an ignition interlock device on your car.