Like all states, Texas has an “implied consent” law when it comes to blood alcohol testing during traffic stops. That is, whether you realize it or not, you’ve consented to testing just by driving on state roads.
Because of the social toll caused by drunk driving, this isn’t a law where your Miranda or Fifth Amendment rights apply. Unlike some states, however, the Lone Star State’s implied consent regulations leave you some legal leeway, even if you refuse blood alcohol tests.
Implied Consent Law in Texas
Texas law requires you to submit to chemical testing to check your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) after a police officer has lawfully arrested you for DWI. In some states, the breath test comes first, and the police can charge you with DWI just for “refusal to submit.”
The arrest is lawful if the officer has probable cause to suspect you of intoxication, including but not limited to:
- Inability to properly operate a motor vehicle.
- Odd behavior on the road.
- Inability to pass a field sobriety test.
- Inability to walk straight.
- Slurred speech.
- The smell of alcohol on your person.
- Refusal to take a preliminary alcohol screening.
- Failure of a preliminary alcohol screening.
If you’re arrested for DWI, the officer may ask you to take either a blood test or breath test. He or she will also explain the consequences if you refuse blood alcohol tests, and that your refusal will be used against you in court.
Preliminary Alcohol Screening and the Implied Consent Law
To establish probable cause under the implied consent law, the officer can ask you to take a preliminary breath test. You don’t not have to take a preliminary test, but your refusal to do so may result in an arrest for DWI. After that, testing is mandatory.
Penalties for Refusing Tests After Arrest
If the officer arrests you and you still refuse to take a chemical test, the standard penalties are:
- First offense: Driver’s license suspension for six months.
- Subsequent offenses. Driver’s license suspension for up to two years.
Should You Refuse a Test?
That’s a difficult question to answer and is really dependent on the situation. If you are sober and refuse, then you are facing a 6 months driver’s license suspension. If you are intoxicated and refuse, then if law enforcement doesn’t get your blood, you have a better change of beating the charge.
You Can Appeal Your License Suspension
You have 15 days after being charged with refusal to ask for a hearing. Since you may be able to save your license at the hearing, you should take advantage of the opportunity.
To Learn More About Implied Consent Law, Contact Us Today
A DWI arrest combined with a refusal to take a chemical test can have grave consequences, but it’s still possible to save your license and reputation. That’s where Hoeller & McLaughlin PLLC comes in. Call us today for a free consultation at (877) 595-4450 if you live in or near Fort Worth or Colleyville, Texas. Our expert DWI attorneys have handled hundreds of cases like yours. We’ll fight for your case from hearing through trial.