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What Is “Implied Consent?”

When you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence, you are required to adhere to a blood alcohol content test by either blood, breath, or urine, depending on what’s available. Can you refuse this test? The answer is no—you are required by law to submit to this test or else you will face extensive penalties because of a doctrine known as “implied consent.” Let’s take a look at this provision and learn how it could impact your case.


The implied consent law for Tennessee can be found in Tennessee Code Annotated 55-10-406, which essentially states that you must submit and undergo a blood alcohol content test when you are legally arrested by an officer on suspicion of driving under the influence. The law also states that the arresting officer gets to choose what test you take and they also reserve the right to have you take more than one of these tests.

However, law enforcement can’t physically force you to take these tests so can you still deny permission? Technically yes, but not without severe consequences. According to this same statute, if you are lawfully placed under arrest and still refuse to submit to a BAC test, you will automatically have your license suspended for at least one year (two years if this is your second time refusing).


Many people mistakenly believe that if they refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test that an arresting officer won’t have the evidence necessary to convict them in court. This is far from true. In fact, many states (Tennessee included) allow refusal to submit to a test to be interpreted as an admission of guilt and use that alone as evidence that you were intoxicated and therefore guilty of DUI.

On top of it not actually helping your case, refusing to submit also subjects you to the aforementioned license suspension in addition to other DUI penalties. In Tennessee, a first conviction can include fines between $350 and $1,500 plus a ton of their consequences, possibly including mandatory ignition interlock device installation.

If you’re facing accusations of driving under the influence, you should consult with a Murfreesboro DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Contact The Clarke Law Firm today at (615) 796-6299 to request a case evaluation.