Assuming the police had probable cause to stop you on suspicion of drunk driving, during the police officer’s investigation, if asked to submit to a breathalyzer test – are you legally obligated to comply with the police officer’s request? The short answer to this question is no. Many people do not know what their individual rights are with respect to refusing chemical tests.
To start, a chemical test is either a breathalyzer or blood test that reads the blood alcohol content of your blood by measuring your breath or examining your blood. Almost all incidents involving an arrest on a roadway, involve the administration of a breathalyzer test. Consenting or refusing to a chemical test has different consequences before the two tribunals that are involved with the adjudication of a DWI arrest in Texas.
DWI Laws in Texas
A driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading of .o8% or higher is considered legally drunk in Texas and may be charged and arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). The arrest formally commences the criminal case against the driver. At the same time, any time a driver is arrested and charged with DWI, his or her license is immediately suspended. License suspensions related to a DWI arrest are handled by the Administrative License Revocation department of the Texas Department of Public Safety and formally commences the administrative case against the driver.
Treatment of Refusal to Take Breathalyzer Test in Criminal Court
After an arrest and DWI charge, a criminal defendant can refuse to take a breathalyzer or blood test to measure his or her BAC level. The police, or prosecution, must obtain a warrant to compel driver to take the test. Refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test carriers no criminal penalty.
Treatment of Refusal to Take Breathalyzer Test in Administrative Court
Refusing to take a breathalyzer test violates Texas’ implied consent laws. Implied consent means that any time you drive on a public roadway in Texas you are deemed to have automatically consented to taking a chemical test if asked to take one by a law enforcement official. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test leads to 180 days of driver’s license suspension if the DWI arrest is your first one. Two or more DWI arrests results in a license suspension of two years. Had the driver consented to the breathalyzer test, even if he or she failed it, the license suspension for the first offense in 90 days; with two or more DWI arrests, the license suspension is for one year. In any case, the driver is able to apply for an occupational license, permitting her or him to drive to and from work and to perform essential household duties during the period of the license suspension.
How Can We Help?
If you are facing DWI criminal charges, consult with an experienced DWI attorney. Kimberly Griffin Tucker and her team are ready to assist you resolve your DWI case. Call (214) 445-6336 to schedule an immediate free consultation. Reach us 24 hours per day via phone and email. Our Plano, Texas office is only a phone call away.