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Tennessee’s implied consent law: What does it mean for you?

At this time of year, Memphis police put extra squad cars and patrol officers on the streets. The goal is to keep an eye on heavy holiday traffic and look for suspected drunk drivers, pull them over, check to see if they are indeed impaired and then, when appropriate, make DUI arrests.

Before making a drunk driving arrest, it's common for Memphis police officers and Shelby County sheriff’s deputies to ask drivers to consent to a test to determine if the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) has reached Tennessee’s legal limit of .08 percent.

If you’ve been pulled over on suspicion of DUI and you refuse to submit to either a breath or blood test, you can be charged with violating Tennessee’s implied consent law. In some cases, a person can be arrested for drunk driving and later acquitted of that charge, but still found to be in violation of the implied consent statute (a civil offense, not a criminal one).

Regardless, the punishment for the implied consent violation can be harsh: you can lose your driver’s license for a full year. If you have had a previous drunk driving conviction, it is very possible that you will lose your license for an even longer period.

With your attorney’s help, however, you can apply for and receive a restricted license that allows you to drive to and from work, for instance, or other defined locations in certain circumstances.

If you have refused to take a breath or blood test, contact an attorney experienced in DUI defense that protects your freedom, rights and license.

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Jack P. Sherman, Attorney at Law
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