What Should I Know About Blood Samples and Traffic Stops?
March 18, 2014
Under current Tennessee law, police officers are allowed to order blood samples during traffic stops even when the driver does not give consent. There is currently much debate on whether this law violates drivers’ Constitutional rights. Proponents of the law, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), say that driving is a privilege and that all drivers must agree to give a blood sample when asked. Opponents, however, say that it is unconstitutional to require a blood test without justification.
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in order to take a blood sample, you must have consent, a search warrant, or exigent circumstances. This coming May, the ruling will be reevaluated by the court. The outcome of the court’s decision could have a significant impact on drivers statewide.
Tennessee law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. A breath test is often used in the field to help officers determine if a driver is over the limit, but breath tests are not always accurate. Therefore, officers and prosecutors often rely on blood tests to get a more accurate assessment of the amount of alcohol in a driver’s system.
There is an Implied Consent Statute in Tennessee that requires all motorists to give consent to a blood, breath, or urine chemical test. Officers can request a test if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a motorist is driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Drivers who refuse a test will likely face an automatic revocation of their driver’s license. Even motorists who later successfully fight DUI charges can still face penalties for violating the Implied Consent Statute.
It is unclear if Tennessee’s consent law will be deemed unconstitutional. But for now, drivers are at a distinct disadvantage. If you are facing DUI charges, it is imperative that you get an experienced Tennessee DUI defense lawyer on your side right away to ensure that your rights are protected. Click here to get in touch with a dependable DUI defense legal team now.