Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 55: Motor and Other Vehicles

Chapter 10: Accidents, Arrests, Crimes and Penalties

Part 4: Alcohol and Drug Related Offenses

TCA 55-10-406: Tests for alcohol or drug content of blood -- Implied consent -- Administration -- Immunity from liability -- Refusal to submit to test -- Mandatory testing -- Admissibility.

(a) Any person who drives a motor vehicle in this state is deemed to have given consent to a test or tests for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of that person's blood, a test or tests for the purpose of determining the drug content of the person's blood, or both tests. However, no such test or tests may be administered pursuant to this section unless conducted at the direction of a law enforcement officer having reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving while under the influence of alcohol, a drug, any other intoxicant or any combination of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants as prohibited by SC 55-10-401, or was violating SC 39-13-106, SC 39-13-213(a)(2) or SC 39-13-218.

(b) (1) The following persons who, acting at the written request of a law enforcement officer, withdraw blood from a person for the purpose of conducting either or both tests, shall not incur any civil or criminal liability as a result of the withdrawing of the blood, except for any damages that may result from the negligence of the person so withdrawing:

(A) Any physician;

(B) Registered nurse;

(C) Licensed practical nurse;

(D) Clinical laboratory technician;

(E) Licensed paramedic;

(F) Licensed emergency medical technician approved to establish intravenous catheters;

(G) Technologist; or

(H) A trained phlebotomist who is operating under a hospital protocol, has completed phlebotomy training through an educational entity providing such training, or has been properly trained by a current or former employer to draw blood.

(2) Neither shall the hospital nor other employer of the health care professionals listed in subdivision (b)(1) incur any civil or criminal liability as a result of the act of withdrawing blood from any person, except for negligence.

(c) Any law enforcement officer who requests that the driver of a motor vehicle submit to either or both tests authorized pursuant to this section, for the purpose of determining the alcohol or drug content, or both, of the driver's blood, shall, prior to conducting either test or tests, advise the driver that refusal to submit to the test or tests will result in the suspension by the court of the driver's operator's license; if the driver is driving on a license that is cancelled, suspended or revoked because of a prior conviction as defined in SC 55-10-405, the refusal to submit to the test or tests will, in addition, result in a fine and mandatory jail or workhouse sentence; and if the driver is convicted of a violation of SC 55-10-401, that the refusal to submit to the test or tests, depending on the person's prior criminal history, may result in the requirement that the person be required to operate only a motor vehicle equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device. The court having jurisdiction of the offense for which the driver was placed under arrest shall not have the authority to suspend the license of a driver or require the driver to operate only a motor vehicle equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device pursuant to SC 55-10-417 who refused to submit to either or both tests, if the driver was not advised of the consequences of the refusal.

(d) (1) Except as required by subdivision (d)(5), court order or search warrant, if such person is placed under arrest, requested by a law enforcement officer to submit to either or both tests, advised of the consequences for refusing to do so, and refuses to submit, the test or tests to which the person refused shall not be given, and the person shall be charged with violating subsection (a). The determination as to whether a driver violated subsection (a) shall be made at the driver's first appearance or preliminary hearing in the general sessions court, but no later than the case being bound over to the grand jury, unless the refusal is a misdemeanor offense in which case the determination shall be made by the court which determines whether the driver committed the offense; however, upon the motion of the state, the determination may be made at the same time and by the same court as the court disposing of the offense for which the driver was placed under arrest.

(2) Any person who is unconscious as a result of an accident or is unconscious at the time of arrest or apprehension or otherwise in a condition rendering that person incapable of refusal, shall be subjected to the test or tests as provided in this section. The results thereof shall not be used in evidence against that person in any court or before any regulatory body without the consent of the person so tested. Refusal of release of the evidence so obtained will result in the suspension of that person's driver license, thus the refusal of consent shall give the person the same rights of hearing and determinations as provided for conscious and capable persons in this section.

(3) Nothing in this section shall affect the admissibility in evidence, in criminal prosecutions for aggravated assault or homicide by the use of a motor vehicle only, of any chemical analysis of the alcoholic or drug content of the defendant's blood that has been obtained by any means lawful.

(4) Provided probable cause exists for criminal prosecution for the offense of driving under the influence of an intoxicant under SC 55-10-401, nothing in this section shall affect the admissibility into evidence in a criminal prosecution of any chemical analysis of the alcohol or drug content of the defendant's blood that has been obtained while the defendant was hospitalized or otherwise receiving medical care in the ordinary course of medical treatment.

(5) (A) If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of another has committed a violation of SC 39-13-213(a)(2), SC 39-13-218, or SC 55-10-401, the officer shall cause the driver to be tested for the purpose of determining the alcohol or drug content of the driver's blood. The test shall be performed in accordance with the procedure set forth in this section and shall be performed regardless of whether the driver does or does not consent to the test; or

(B) If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the driver of a motor vehicle has committed a violation of SC 39-13-213(a)(2), SC 39-13-218 or SC 55-10-401, and has a prior conviction of SC 39-13-213(a)(2), SC 39-13-218 or SC 55-10-401, the officer shall cause the driver to be tested for the purpose of determining the alcohol or drug content of the driver's blood. The test shall be performed in accordance with the procedure set forth in this section and shall be performed regardless of whether the driver does or does not consent to the test.

(C) If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the driver of a motor vehicle has committed a violation of SC 39-13-213(a)(2), SC 39-13-218 or SC 55-10-401, and a passenger in the motor vehicle is a child under sixteen (16) years of age, the officer shall cause the driver to be tested for the purpose of determining the alcohol or drug content of the driver's blood. The test shall be performed in accordance with the procedure set forth in this section and shall be performed regardless of whether the driver does or does not consent to the test.

(D) The results of a test performed in accordance with subdivision (d)(5)(A), (B) and (C) may be offered as evidence by either the state or the driver of the vehicle in any court or administrative hearing or official proceeding relating to the accident or offense subject to the Tennessee Rules of Evidence.

(E) The results of any test authorized by this section shall be reported in writing by the person making the test. The report shall have noted on it the time at which the sample analyzed was obtained from the person and made available to the person, upon request.

(6) (A) Upon the trial of any person charged with a violation of SC 55-10-401 the results of any test or tests conducted on the person so charged shall be admissible in evidence in a criminal proceeding.

(B) Failure of a law enforcement officer to request the administering of a test or tests shall likewise be admissible in evidence in a criminal proceeding.

History: Acts 1969, ch. 292, SCSC 2, 3, 5; 1970, ch. 427, SCSC 3, 4; 1973, ch. 400, SC 1; 1977, ch. 71, SC 1; T.C.A., SCSC 59-1045, 59-1046, 59-1048; Acts 1980, ch. 817, SC 5; 1981, ch. 353, SC 1; 1982, ch. 579, SC 1; 1983, ch. 112, SC 1; 1984, ch. 695, SC 1; 1985, ch. 141, SCSC 1, 3; 1987, ch. 318, SCSC 1-4; 1988, ch. 840, SC 1; 1993, ch. 390, SC 1; 1995, ch. 355, SC 1; 1996, ch. 911, SC 1; 1998, ch. 986, SC 2; 1998, ch. 1046, SC 8; 2000, ch. 602, SC 1; 2000, ch. 842, SC 1; 2000, ch. 952, SCSC 1, 2; 2001, ch. 110, SC 1; 2002, ch. 855, SC 8; 2004, ch. 626, SC 1; 2005, ch. 483, SCSC 1-4; 2008, ch. 957, SC 1; 2009, ch. 324, SC 1; 2010, ch. 921, SC 10; 2010, ch. 1096, SCSC 1-4; 2011, ch. 307, SCSC 1, 2; 2012, ch. 666, SC 1; 2012, ch. 892, SC 1; 2012, ch. 1040, SC 1; 2013, ch. 154, SC 6; T.C.A. SCSC 55-10-407, 55-10-409.