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Supreme Court may change DUI rules for Tennessee drivers

In December 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court revealed that it would hear arguments in a cases involving drivers who had been indicted for their refusal to submit to breathalyzer DUI testing. Tennessee is just one of 13 states that make it legal for police to charge motorists with crimes for refusing BAC tests, but in cases that originated in North Dakota and Minnesota, lawyers argued that these rules violate the U.S. constitution.

Reports said that the Supreme Court already passed a ruling in 2013 related to a similar issue, in which it decided that police needed warrants to perform blood-based BAC testing. The most recent cases claim that breathalyzer tests that haven't been approved by warrants fall under the same category.

The parties challenging the existing laws are fighting on the grounds that motorists shouldn't be charged with an additional crime for BAC test refusal, so even if the court makes a decision, it might not do much to change the way police treat existing DUI crimes or use other evidence against drivers. It's also unclear how a new ruling might impact the many motorists who have already been indicted under the previous laws.

Those who stand accused of DUIs and related crimes may feel pressured by authorities to enter into plea bargains or agree to actions that aren't necessarily in their best interest. In states where warrantless BAC testing and other practices are legally permitted, these individuals may stack the odds against themselves by blithely going along with the police. While cooperation is usually better than being convicted of resisting arrest or a breath test refusal, indicted motorists may wish to learn about their constitutional rights before pursuing or agreeing to additional actions.

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