Being pulled over by the police can be a very scary ordeal. This is especially true if you believe you may be in danger of getting a DUI.
If the police suspect you have been drinking and driving there are several things they will request from you, such as a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test.
You should know your rights and the consequences if you decide to refuse a breathalyzer test in the state of Texas.
Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
The simple answer to that question is, yes. You can decide that you do not want to submit to a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test. It is within your rights to refuse.
You may believe that by refusing, there will be no evidence to support a DUI charge against you and nothing bad will happen. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Many people make the wrong decision by refusing a breathalyzer and find out too late that it did more harm good.
There are also some important things you should know before you get a DUI.
What are Implied Consent Laws?
Most people believe that driving on the roads is a right, however, it is actually a privilege that is granted after meeting certain conditions. Each state grants permission to individuals to drive on their roadways after passing both written and practical driving exams.
Once these tests are passed, a license is given and it must be signed. The terms and conditions for that license include certain implied consent laws that you agree to with your signature. One of those implied laws is that you agree to consent to urine, blood, or breathalyzer test to calculate your blood alcohol content (BAC).
So, while you can legally refuse to take the test, there are consequences to that decision.
What Happens if You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test in the state of Texas your license will be suspended. There are different lengths of that suspension depending on certain factors.
If this is the first time you have refused a breathalyzer, your license can be suspended for up to 180 days.
If there is a previous DUI on your record, or you have refused before, you can lose your license for up to two years.
This is not a criminal proceeding and is considered a civil matter. It’s handled through an Administrative License Revocation hearing through the TxDPS. This hearing must be requested within 15 days from the date of the incident. If this does not happen, the suspension will automatically be set at the maximum amount.
It’s worth noting that if a test is refused and a conviction is made anyway, the penalties can be more severe then if the test was agreed upon on-site.
It’s worth taking the time to learn what constitutes driving while impaired in Texas.
When Is a Breathalyzer Required?
There are certain situations when a police officer can insist you submit to a breathalyzer test. If the officer believes you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and operating a vehicle in a public place and one of the following conditions apply:
- You have previously been convicted of a DUI with a minor child in the vehicle. (In the state of Texas, this is age 14 or younger.)
- You have previously been convicted twice for DUIs.
- You had a DUI accident that resulted in someone being seriously injured or dying.
- You have an alcohol-related conviction for manslaughter or assault.
If you have been in serious DUI trouble previously, it’s most likely not in your best interest to try and refuse to take a field sobriety test or breathalyzer as you will be made to comply. Trying to refuse may only make things worse for you.
Many states, including Texas, have a “No Refusal” enforcement. Basically this means a police officer can attempt to execute an electronic warrant.
If the officer is convinced you are driving while intoxicated, and a risk to yourself or the community, and you refuse to submit to a test, they now have the ability to electronically request a warrant to force you to comply.
Refusing against an electronic warrant only adds to your trouble, and can even result in them taking blood from you by force.
If you, or a loved one, struggles with alcohol problems, AA is a great resource.
The Evidence Against You
As mentioned above, some people believe that refusing to take a breathalyzer will eliminate any evidence against them— but this isn’t necessarily the case.
Even without a solid blood alcohol content test, a conviction can be made based on the testimony of the officer. If they testify to your condition, inability to drive correctly, or slurred speech, there can be a bad outcome for you.
Keep in mind also, that many police cars have dash cams and some officers wear body cams. If they capture you in an obvious state of intoxication, you can still be convicted.
It’s also worth noting that some courts considering the very act of refusal as an admission of guilt. If you had nothing to hide, you would have just taken the test.
How a Lawyer Can Help
You should never try to fight a DUI charge on your own. These convictions are very serious and can have a negative effect on your life and family for years to come.
A knowledgeable and trained DUI lawyer will help guide you to determine the best course of action. If you were forced to take a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test against your will, they can challenge the findings or look for errors by either the lab itself or the technicians.
They can also investigate any violation of your rights and can use any discrepancies to help lower your sentence or work to dismiss the charges.
Here are 5 amazing tips to help you find the best DUI lawyer.
The Decision is Yours
There are many times in life when one decision can have long-lasting consequences. Knowing when, or if, to refuse a breathalyzer test is one of those times.
You should be aware of your rights, but also understand that refusing isn’t always the best option. For more information on this issue, or to learn how we can help you fight a DUI charge, reach out today.