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Tennessee Reforms Implied Consent Laws: Is Arizona to be Next?

Posted by Shawn B. Hamp | Nov 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

For years, residents in all 50 states have had to abide by the implied consent law. This law dictates that there is an automatic assumption of consent to submit an alcohol or drug test in the event that a driver is suspected of a DUI. Therefore, if an officer reasonably suspects that a motorist has been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a driver must undergo a blood or urine test in order to assess their blood the law is effective immediately upon issuance of an Arizona driver's license. Unfortunately, many Arizona state residents are unaware that this law exists, so when they refuse to take a test upon the request of an officer, they do so believing it is their right to refuse a test. They do not, however, have such a right. The consequences for violating the implied consent law are pretty strict in Arizona, resulting in the suspension of a driver's license for at least twelve months.

Implied consent laws, though they vary to some extent, are enacted in all states. Recently, lawmakers in Tennessee have decided to completely reform their implied consent law. At the beginning of this month, new state legislation took effect to eliminate implied consent for the forced administering of blood and urine tests in cases related to DUIs. Under the previous law, Tennessee residents were unable to refuse blood and urine tests that were administered under a police officer's discretion. The repercussions of doing so were dire. Oftentimes drivers who felt as if there were no need to take the tests were penalized harshly for refusing. In some cases, punishments did not stop at license suspension. Some Tennessee drivers were also ordered to spend time in jail and pay costly fines.

Tennessee's bold decision comes in the wake of the controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision last year. The court found that implied consent regulations were deemed unconstitutional on the basis that a suspect's refusal to take a blood or urine test should not be considered a criminal offense. The decision was made in regard to states, like Tennessee, that pin additional penalties to implied consent violations apart from the standard license suspension that is enforced in each state.

Under the new law, drivers must give their consent before a test is administered. In the event that a motorist refuses to consent, a warrant must be obtained in order to enforce the implied consent law. In addition to these new regulations, the courts have found that the revocation of a driver's license and the installation of an ignition interlock device may not be administered unless an officer has made a driver aware of these consequences.

Tennessee's amendment of the implied consent law has caused lawmakers to pose the question of whether other states will follow suit. Arizona, however, seems to be ahead of the game when it comes to DUI refusal. In Arizona, a motorist can refuse to take a test if he or she has not been arrested, but if arrested, then the implied consent law kicks in. If the motorist still refuses to submit to a test, the police officer must advise the motorist of the consequences. At that time, the motorist can retract his or her refusal, but if not, the officer can and almost always does, apply for a search warrant, and upon receipt of it, enforces the law and administers the chemical test via breath, blood or urine samples.

Experienced DUI Attorneys

Attorneys at the Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp, P.C. understand just how scary being charged and arrested for a DUI can be. Our criminal defense/DUI lawyers are dedicated to protecting your rights. Contact us today for a consultation.

About the Author

Shawn B. Hamp

President and lead counsel for The Hamp Law Offices, LLC (An Arizona Professional Corporation), Shawn Hamp has practiced law for more than 15 years with an emphasis in criminal law. An experienced trial attorney, Mr. Hamp has been lead counsel in hundreds of criminal trials and court...


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