Under TCA 55-10-406 any person driving a motor vehicle in Tennessee is deemed to have given implied consent to a breath test, a blood test, or both to determine the person’s alcohol or drug content of their blood. A refusal to submit to one of these tests is a civil rather than criminal offense. Therefore, drivers cannot be punished with jail time but will face mandatory suspension periods of their driver’s license.
The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals clarified that “consent” under the implied consent statute is not voluntary consent to search but consent to certain consequences if permission to search is withheld from a driver. State v. Henry, 539 S.W.3d 223, 246 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2017).
Breath and blood tests are treated differently in Tennessee, so there are different standards and procedures prior to administering one of these tests.