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Bill Mandating DUI Blood Tests in Tennessee Passes House

A bill recently passed the Tennessee House which would allow judges to compel drivers to take a blood test if they refuse to take a breath alcohol test at the time of arrest. The vote on the bill was 52-33, just two more votes than the required number to clear the chamber.

Currently under Tennessee's implied consent law, any driver in the state is deemed to have implicitly consented to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. If police suspect a driver of drunk driving, and he or she refuses to take a blood or breath test, the driver may be found in violation of Tennessee's implied consent law. This is a civil forfeiture rather than a criminal offense. The penalty is a loss of driving privileges for a year, or possibly longer if a driver has past DUI convictions.

The bill would give judges the ability to require drivers to take a blood test. Concerns have been raised that such a law would violate constitutional rights against self-incrimination. The Tennessee House Majority Leader also questioned the bill's appropriateness, "It concerns a lot of people when the government holds people down and takes bodily fluids out."

An implied consent violation is a matter separate from a DUI charge. Police officers need to have reasonable grounds when they pull you over, and probable cause to lead them to believe you have consumed alcohol and that a test will provide evidence. An experienced implied consent attorney can provide further guidance in determining whether your rights were violated.

Source:, "Rep. Todd skips vote on mandatory DUI blood tests," Erik Schelzig, April 5, 2012

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