Written by attorney Patrick Mahaney

Alabama's Implied Consent Law

The Implied Consent Law found at Code of Alabama, 1975, section 32-5-192, was enacted in 1971 as mechanism to require compliance with the state's Chemical Test for Intoxication Act. Much of the Implied Consent law has been superseded in application by the Administrative License Suspension Act; however, much of the important concepts remain in place. The key points to Alabama's Implied Consent law are the following:

  • The Implied Consent Law is an alcohol only statute; the Implied Consent Law has no application to controlled substances.
  • The motorist cannot be physically compelled to submit to a blood, breath, or urine sample; the only sanction for test refusal is an administrative license suspension.
  • If law enforcement authorities demand a blood sample, the motorist can lawfully refuse to submit to a blood draw and request the breath test or urine sample without repercussion to license. [Caveat: Under Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 16.2 (b), a law enforcement officer may secure a search warrant to obtain a blood sample, if such warrant is based on probable cause.]
  • The motorist must be told that refusal to submit to the breath test will result in suspension of license or privilege for a period of 90 days (or one year, if the second refusal in the past five years). If the motorist holds an out-of-state license, or is unlicensed, the Director is authorized to suspend the privilege to operate a vehicle on the public highways for refusal, but the Director has no authority to suspend the driver license of an out-of-state driver.

Under the Code of Alabama, 1975, section 32-5-192 states: "Such person shall be told that his failure to submit to such a chemical test will result in the suspension of his privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 90 days; ..." The arresting or testing officer's failure to inform the motorist that his or her driver license is subject to suspension for test refusal will invalidate the intended license removal.

In the case of Garrison v. Dothard, 336 So. 2d 1129 (Ala. Civ. App. 1979), the court held that the arresting/testing officer must adequately inform the motorist of the consequences of refusal to submit to a breath test before the motorist can be cited for refusing to submit to a chemical test. Also, in Redus v. State, 398 So. 2d 757 (Ala.Cr. App. 1981) the court held that the testing officer's failure to inform the non-consenting motorist of the consequences of refusal will require the State to remove any driver license suspension action.

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