If I am arrested for drunk driving in Texas, can I refuse to take a sobriety test?
Technically, you have the legal right to refuse a breath or blood BAC (blood alcohol content) test even after you've been arrested and charged with a DWI in Texas. Of course, this legal right disappears if the arresting officer has a warrant, but even without the warrant you should still consider the issue of Texas' implied consent laws.
What are DWI implied consent laws?
According to Texas implied consent laws, if you drive on public roadways, you have implicitly consented to a chemical test in the case that you are arrested for drunk driving. Violating the implied consent laws can often mean extremely severe penalties. These penalties make deciding whether or not to refuse a breath or blood test a difficult decision. Of course, if you caused an accident in which somebody else was seriously injured or killed or in which you were knocked unconscious, you cannot refuse to test.
What are the penalties for refusing to take a test?
Once you are arrested for DWI, the officer must properly inform you that refusing to take the test can be used as evidence against you in court and will cause your license to be suspended for at least 180 days. Meanwhile, if you decide to take the test and register a BAC higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent, your license will surely be suspended for at least 90 days.
What can I do after refusing to take the test?
If the officer has properly explained these legal circumstances to you before you refused to take the test, the officer will confiscate your license and you will receive a temporary permit that is valid for 41 days. Over the next two weeks after that, you can have the suspension lifted if you request a hearing and successfully prove one of the following issues:
- No probable cause or reasonable suspicion existed for the officer to stop your vehicle or arrest you in the first place.
- No probable cause existed to believe that you were intoxicated during the time you were driving on a public roadway.
- The arresting officer did not properly request that you submit to chemical testing after placing you under arrest.
- You did not actually refuse the chemical test upon the officer's proper request.
Do I need a Texas lawyer after refusing to take a BAC test?
By refusing to take the test, the state does not have proof that your BAC was over 0.08 percent, but you could end up convicted with a DWI anyway. In some cases, refusing to take the test can have more severe consequences than being found guilty of DWI after consenting to a test. DWI has more severe consequences than typical traffic-related charges which means that you should not try to fight it without an experienced Texas defense attorney by your side. Deciding the best course of action after a DWI arrest is complicated by the fact that each case can be so unique.