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Can I refuse a breath test?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2023 | Drunk Driving |

Getting pulled over for a breath test can be inconvenient when you are in a rush. However, all drivers in Tennessee need to comply when it happens.

The state has implied consent laws, which automatically give authorities consent to administer a breath test if they believe you may have been driving under the influence.

Consequences of refusal

If you refuse a breath test by a police officer, they can enforce the following penalties:

  • They can suspend or revoke your driver’s license.
  • Depending on your criminal history, the officer may require you to install an ignition interlock device in your car.

These are the standard procedures for this situation. The officer should also inform you of these repercussions if you refuse the breath test.

What happens after the test?

If your breath test result is under the state’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit, the officer will likely let you go. However, you may face the minimum penalty if your results exceed the limit.

Sanctions can get worse if your breath test shows a result over 0.20. In this case, you may face a minimum of seven days to over 11 months in prison. Authorities can also revoke your driver’s license and charge you a fine ranging from $350 to $1,500. Additional penalties include:

  • Fees for the ignition interlock device
  • Property damage or injuries caused by your DUI incident
  • Entering an alcohol and drug treatment program

Your penalties can get more severe, depending on your criminal history. If you are a repeat offender, you can face up to a year of jail time and thousands of fines.

Additional charges

Unfortunately, not all DUI cases are alike. Other instances tend to cause injuries and add more charges to your DUI, such as child endangerment and vehicular assault. If convicted, these offenses stay on your record and affect other aspects of your life, including your work, residence and credit.