No refusal really means no refusal

Last weekend marked the beginning of the summer driving season, and it represents the beginning of increased enforcement by the Tennessee Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies in an effort to reduce the number of highway deaths and serious injuries.

During the Memorial Day weekend, the THP used increased patrols and various types of checkpoints to examine the condition of drivers. These checkpoints will be employed by all of the state highway patrol districts throughout the summer.

These will include the use of “No Refusal” checkpoints, where officers will stop all vehicles on certain roads. Officers will look at drivers for signs of impairment, whether from alcohol or drug use, and if they suspect the driver is impaired, they will then request they submit to a blood test.

If the suspect refuses, they will have a Tennessee judge on call to review the facts and issue a search warrant that will authorize the officers to obtain a blood sample for the test to measure your blood alcohol content.

This is why they are known as “no refusal” enforcement, because once the warrant is approved, you are not able to prevent the officers from obtaining your blood for the test.

Given the severe penalties that you may face if you are arrested and convicted in Tennessee of driving under the influence, being stopped at a “no refusal” checkpoint could result in the loss of your license, fines, jail time and being required to install an ignition interlock device.

A vigorous defense is important, because even blood alcohol tests can be wrong, as officers or technicians may contaminate a sample or otherwise mishandle the blood in a way that renders its probative value questionable.

Source:, “No Refusal Part of Summer THP Enforcement,” May 25, 2014

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