Do I Have to Consent to a Breathalyzer Test in Nashville?

Driving while intoxicated or while under the influence of drugs is illegal in Tennessee. If a traffic police officer asks you to pull over on suspicion of drunk driving, they can request a breathalyzer test, among other chemical tests. The purpose of these tests is to establish if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is within legal limits.

Understanding your rights during field sobriety tests is important to avoid inadvertently implicating yourself. If you or a loved one is being charged with DUI in Nashville and want to know your rights, consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer is crucial.

The team at Nash Law in Nashville, TN is committed to protecting you and your reputation when arrested and charged with DUI. Our DUI defense lawyers can enlighten you about your rights and help you come up with an effective defense strategy to help you fight your charges.

We offer a free initial case evaluation to discuss your options following your arrest.

How Breathalyzer Tests Are Administered in Nashville

Breath tests, also known as breathalyzer tests, are used by the arresting officers to determine the amount of alcohol in a driver’s system if they suspect that he/she is driving under the influence. In Tennessee, police officers usually use the Intoximeter EC/IR II to conduct breath tests.

Breathalyzer machines will be used to produce a numerical value for your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). The higher the BAC figure, the more intoxicated you are. The BAC value will be used as probable cause for your DUI arrest and will be presented in court as evidence.

As such, the breathalyzer tests must be conducted based on the due operating procedures and the standards set by the Tennessee Forensic Services Division. Any deviations could render the breath tests inaccurate and the results invalid.

Do I Have to Consent to a Breathalyzer Test in Nashville?

Tennessee’s implied consent law stipulates that any person who drives a vehicle within the state has automatically consented to DUI chemical testing, including breath tests, to determine their BAC. Nonetheless, the requirement to submit to this testing is only valid so long as the officer has probable cause to believe the driver was driving while intoxicated.

Tennessee’s implied consent law does not extend to blood tests, unlike most other states. While a law enforcement officer could request a driver to take a blood test, the driver cannot be penalized for refusing to take one unless the officer has a warrant or an exigent circumstance exists.

You also have the right to refuse a breath test. You cannot be forced to take a breath test unless you are involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of another person. In such a case, the officer can have you tested to determine the BAC content, whether you consent or not. This also applies to drivers that have a prior DUI conviction in Tennessee.

What Are the Penalties for Refusing a Breath Test?

Although violating implied consent law is usually considered a civil offense, there are some cases where a refusal is treated as a Class A Misdemeanor. Class A Misdemeanors carry up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, with fines not exceeding $2,500. However, most refusals are penalized by license suspension, as they are not considered a criminal offense.

If a driver has no prior DUI conviction within the past ten years, the penalty is a one-year license suspension. If there are prior DUI convictions, the suspension for a breathalyzer refusal is two years. However, depending on the circumstances of the case, the penalties may increase as follows:

  • 2-year license suspension if the DUI incident causes a crash that seriously injures one or more persons.
  • 5-year license suspension if the driver is involved in a fatal accident.

If you refused to take a breathalyzer test after being pulled over on suspicion of DUI, an experienced attorney from Nash Law can help you keep the incident from ruining your reputation for the foreseeable future. Keep in mind that even if you’re acquitted of the DUI charge, you could still suffer the consequences listed above for simply refusing to submit to breath testing.

Consult With a Criminal Defense Attorney Today About Your Nashville DUI Case

Handling a DUI charge or a violation of the implied consent law on your own is never advisable, especially if you have no prior legal experience. Simple mistakes could result in consequences that might last you a lifetime. If you find yourself facing a DUI charge, call Nash Law today for a free consultation.

Our team can investigate the circumstances surrounding your case, including how the breathalyzer test was conducted, and build a strong defense on your behalf. Aside from identifying possible issues with the prosecution’s case, we will protect your rights and fight vigorously for a favorable outcome.

Contact Nash Law today at 615-NASH-LAW to schedule a free case evaluation.

Get The Help You Deserve