What Happens if You Deny a Breathalyzer in Texas?
DWI arrests and convictions have become so common that everybody has their own story about them. And for every story, there are just as many people who claim to know what to do when faced with a Breathalyzer test. But what’s the correct course of action, and what happens when someone denies a Breathalyzer?
Can a Driver Refuse a Breathalyzer?
Generally speaking, a driver has the right to refuse to take a Breathalyzer test. However, the prosecution can use the refusal against them in court. Not only that, but the officer may be able to get a search warrant that allows them to sample the driver’s blood. Additionally, the refusal can have various non-criminal consequences, most notably, the suspension of the driver’s license.
The Texas Implied Consent Law
But how can denying a Breathalyzer test cause non-criminal penalties? The answer is the Implied Consent Law. Simply put, every state, including Texas, requires drivers to submit to a breath test when arrested for DWI. If the driver doesn’t comply, then the officer has the right to suspend the driver’s license.
Although that might sound unfair, it’s important to understand that driving is a privilege, not a right. And while states cannot limit anyone’s rights by sending them to jail for refusing to take the test, they can revoke their driving privileges.
Furthermore, the state differentiates between blood and breath tests. More specifically, the police can request taking a Breathalyzer test without a warrant. However, since a blood test is more intrusive and implicates significant privacy concerns, asking for one requires a warrant.
What Should a Driver Know About the Implied Consent Law?
Every driver needs to know that the Implied Consent law kicks in after they’ve been placed under arrest for DWI. In other words, a simple traffic stop is not enough for an officer to suspend a license. If the police do arrest the driver, the Implied Consent statutes assume that there is consent for a Breathalyzer test. And while they can still refuse to take the test, the police might force the driver to give a sample of their blood under special circumstances:
● If they’ve been involved in an accident with injured or dead victims.
● If there was a passenger under the age of 15 in the car at the time of the arrest.
● If the driver has been previously convicted of at least one DWI offense.
Can Denying a Breathalyzer Affect a Criminal DWI Case?
Refusing to take a Breathalyzer test can be used as evidence against the driver in court. In fact, the prosecution has the right to argue that the refusal proves that the driver knew they were guilty. Fortunately, experienced Tarrant County DUI lawyers could be able to explain that even an innocent person might refuse a breath test for alcohol.
It’s also worth noting that, while Breathalyzer results are critical pieces of evidence in DWI cases, the prosecution doesn’t necessarily have to prove a driver’s exact BAC. Therefore, they might use camera footage or the officer’s testimony as evidence of one’s reckless behavior.
Can Denying a Breathalyzer Affect a Driver’s License?
As previously stated, refusing a Breathalyzer test usually results in the suspension of the driver’s license. However, the officer taking the license will also give a written notice that acts as a temporary permit. The driver then has 15 days from the date of the arrest to request a formal hearing before the Department of Public Safety. If they don’t do so, they lose the right to a hearing and face a default judgment.
During a hearing, an administrative law judge will analyze the case and decide if the police had probable cause to arrest the driver. Keep in mind that the hearing is not a criminal proceeding, meaning that the DPS won’t establish the driver’s guilt. Until the ALJ gives their verdict, the accused is free to drive using the temporary permit. However, once the suspension takes effect, they lose the ability to drive for anywhere between 180 days and two years.
To Sum It Up
Overall, while refusing a breathing test is a valid option, the consequences often outweigh the benefits. That’s why drivers need to carefully consider their options and choose the one that’s beneficial to their case.
Unfortunately, no matter how much the driver tries to obey the law, they can still end up in an unfair situation. If that’s the case, the only way to protect their rights is to rely on a professional defense team, such as the Sparks Law Firm. They can help any driver who faces DWI charges through the complex criminal process. They can also help answer questions related to DWI such as whether or not can you drink while on DWI probation in Texas or how much is a DWI bond in Texas.