Implied Consent

Implied Consent

When police officers pull over a driver, suspecting the driver of driving under the influence (DUI), they often ask if they can test the individual either through a breath test or a blood test.  These tests can then determine the individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC). If the person consents to the test and the BAC is over a certain level, the officers arrest the individual for a DUI. However, if the individual refuses the test, the police may charge her or him with violating Tennessee’s implied consent law.  This could lead to a loss of your drivers’ license for a year.  Thus, if you are in this situation, you should consult with an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney such as Nashville-based litigator Philip N. Clark.  Mr. Clark handles implied consent cases in Nashville and surrounding counties in Middle Tennessee.   

Tennessee Law on Implied Consent 

Tennessee’s implied consent law provides that drivers are deemed to have given their implied consent to a breath test or a blood test. The law provides: “The operator of a motor vehicle in this state is deemed to have given implied consent to breath tests, blood tests, or both tests, for the purpose of determining the alcohol or drug content of that operator’s blood.”[1]

The law provides that as long as a police officer has probable cause to believe that you are operating your vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other controlled substances, that officer can request that you submit to a breath or blood test.   However, the officer must inform you that refusal to take said tests will result in a suspension of driving privileges and the ability to drive only with an ignition interlock device.[2]  If the officer fails to inform of these consequences for refusal, then you cannot be punished for refusing to take one of the chemical tests. 

Furthermore, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to assert constitutional-based defenses on your behalf.  Both the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 7 of the Tennessee Constitution provide protections to individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by government officials.   For, example, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that warrantless blood tests are unlawful seizures under the Fourth Amendment.[3]   The Court explained that “compelled blood draws implicate a significant privacy interest.”[4]

The police may argue that exigent, or emergency-like circumstances, justify a warrantless blood draw.  But, a good DUI defense attorney, such as Nashville-based attorney Philip Clark, may be able to successful convince a judge that there was not probable cause and the police did not act under exigent circumstances either.  

Need for an Attorney

An implied consent charge is a serious matter.  It raises important statutory and constitutional law issues. When the police force you take tests, that indicates a level of compulsion.  Furthermore, breath and blood tests are seizures within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 7 of the Tennessee Constitution.

Nashville-based criminal defense Philip Clark is an attorney who understands the nuances of defending against DUI charges and violations of Tennessee’s implied consent law.   He not only has handled many DUI cases, but he also formerly served as a police officer for nearly twenty (20) years.  He knows how law enforcement officers think and act.  He also is a gifted negotiator and communicator who can speak to prosecutors effectively on your behalf.  He also is very knowledgeable on constitutional criminal law issues, including search and seizure law.  If need be, he zealously can defend you in court.   If you face charges under Tennessee’s implied consent law, contact Philip Clark at (615) 678-1033 or

[1] Tenn. Code Ann. §55-10-406(d).

[2] Tenn. Code Ann. §55-10-406(d)(2)(A)-(B).

[3] Missouri v. McNeeley, 569 U.S. 141 (2013). 

[4] Id. at 163.