A new bill regarding DUI offenses was passed by the Tennessee Legislature today. Essentially if a driver gets pulled over because of a suspected DUI, the officer can now administer a blood alcohol test regardless of whether the driver consented to the test if the driver falls under one of two categories. The first is if the driver has been previously convicted of a DUI, vehicular homicide due to intoxication, or aggravated vehicular homicide. The second is when there is a child in the car under the age of 16. If a driver falls into one of these two categories and the officer has probable cause to believe the driver is intoxicated, he can administer a test regardless of consent, the officer may force a blood draw.
The bill states, in part:
"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 an offense of DUI, vehicular homicide due to intoxication, or aggravated vehicular homicide, then the officer must cause the driver to be tested for the purpose of determining the alcohol or drug content of the driver's blood, regardless of whether or not the driver consents to the test."This bill changes many aspects of the procedures involving DUI offenses. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution exemplifies a policy favoring personal autonomy in regards to searches and seizures by law enforcement upon the person of another. Despite such a policy, this bill puts a substantial amount of discretion into the hands of the police, negating any sort of personal autonomy. The question becomes whether the Tennessee legislature will continue to recognize limitations on this policy, and if so, will those limitations eventually result in a complete lack of consent for purposes like those contained in this DUI bill? The effective date of the new DUI forced blood draw law is January 1, 2012. HB Bill 715 full text.