Tennessee's "No Refusal" Blood Draw
This Guide will provide a broad overview of Tennessee's "No Refusal" blood draws and the status of blood alcohol tests in Tennessee.
What is "No Refusal"Essentially "No Refusal" means that law enforcement intend on having search warrants, and other means, readily available so that a suspected impaired driver will be required to provide a blood sample even if he/she refuses.
Can a driver refuse to take a blood alcohol test?As is often the case in criminal law, yes and no. T.C.A.55-10-406(d)(1) says that a person may refuse to take the test and the test will not be given, however If a suspected impaired driver refuses the test, subsection (d)(1) continues by saying that the person "shall be charged with violating subsection (a)." Punishemnt for a violation of subsection (a) includes, but is not limited to, revocation of your driver's license for 1-5 years.
Can law enforcement force you to take a blood alcohol test even if you refuse?Yes. The Unites States Supreme Court held in Missouri v. McNeely that the dissipation of alcohol in a person's bloodstream is not a sufficient exigency "in every case" to skirt around the fourth amendment's warrant requirement. In Tennessee T.C.A. 55-10-406(d) specifically mentions "court order or search warrant" and five other scenarios where "the test shall be performed regardless of whether the driver does or does not consent to the test."
Should I take the test or refuse?This is the question every lawyer gets asked at some point. I would say the best answer is: it depends. Many criminal prosecutions live or die on a few basic facts or events and the time or manner in which they occur. It is not an easy yes or no answer. Laws are in a constant state of change and appellate courts are always being asked to construe laws.