What Happens if You Refuse Blood Test for DUI Suspicion? Think about This Before You Do It
DUI laws in Texas are very clear. This is likely rooted in how serious these kinds of charges are in the state. Even someone who is committing the first offense is heavily frowned upon, which is mostly due to the danger that the situation presents.
Things get even worse if there are notable prior alcohol-related offenses, especially considering that there isn't a limited lookback period in the state. A previous charge will be factored in, regardless of how long ago it took place.
Penalties can include driver's license suspension, a requirement to use an ignition interlock device, etc. Before getting to the license suspension and other consequences though, it tends to start with a police officer requesting a field sobriety test to be conducted. (Learn about what time DUI checkpoints start).
While a reduction in the use of mental or physical faculties is also enough to arrest someone for a DUI, performing chemical testing and using the reported blood alcohol level is often the way things are handled.
The question here is, does someone have to submit to having their blood alcohol content measured because an officer asks? Here is the answer to that question, and more!
Chemical Test Options
Blood, breath, or urine testing may be used in an attempt to find out if a driver suspected to be under the influence of alcohol is indeed in a compromised state of cognition. Here is a quick look at each of the three options.
The breathalyzer test is often the one that police officers will opt for, considering how easy it is to perform one. There's a certain level of convenience that comes with a test that can be done immediately.
For reference, the blood alcohol concentration of any person operating a vehicle in a public space is not to exceed 0.08%. Basically, the person taking the test is meant to exhale into the testing mechanism, which will use what is known as a partition ratio to calculate the amount of alcohol present.
Blood tests are next, and they are widely considered to be the most accurate variant available. As expected, they rely on getting a blood sample from an accused individual, which will then be examined for the amount of alcohol present.
Of course, the immediacy that a breath test offers is not present here for obvious reasons. The sample taken from the individual must be properly handled and processed to avoid any potential doubts in the reading.
Finally, there is the urine test. These are known for being less accurate than a breath or blood test, which largely comes down to the way alcohol concentration detection in urine works. The actual process of analysis is not too dissimilar to what would typically follow the blood draw for testing.
Nevertheless, there may be specific circumstances that this or one of the other field sobriety tests is particularly chosen to deal with a matter.
The Implied Consent Law
Referring to section 724.011 of the Texas State Transportation Code will provide a rundown of the implied consent law in Texas. Of course, other such laws govern other states, and it's always a good idea for people in the said states to be familiar with them.
In Texas, it is very straightforward. Should a person be arrested for a DUI, that person is required to take a test to determine the presence of drugs (dangerous or controlled), alcohol, or any combination of substances that may be in the body around the time of the arrest.
There is often a misconception about when an attorney comes into play. Once the arrest happens, the right to a dedicated DWI attorney becomes active.
While at the initial phase, a blood, breath, or urine test is not compulsory, this can change depending on the circumstances. For example, in any of the following scenarios, it may become a requirement for someone to submit to a chemical test:
The person is involved in an accident while driving a vehicle
Some form of serious bodily injury is suffered during the incident
The incident leads someone to get transported to a medical facility such as a hospital for treatment
Potential Consequences for Refusing to Take a Blood or Breath Test
Note the following consequences associated with the refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test:
180-day driver's license suspension for the first offense
Two-year driver's license suspension for the second or third offense
The field sobriety tests are completely optional. Knowing this often leads people to argue on the spot that a series of circumstances may affect the test, which leaves them not comfortable with taking it.
It's essential to keep in mind, however, that a texas officer will still not hesitate to make the arrest when a suspect is refusing to submit to a chemical test. Typically, when arresting someone, the officer will request the test while advising the person of the consequences that will come with refusal.
Should the person still choose to refuse, a written statement will need to be signed. At this point, a notice of driver's license suspension will be served. This will be followed by the officer taking the license away and issuing a temporary driving permit instead.
Note that this temporary permit will no longer be valid on the 41st day after it is issued. A letter of refusal will be written by the officer, which will be addressed to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which is expected to grant its approval.
Can a Police Officer Force Someone to Take a Breathalyzer or Blood Test?
As indicated above, a chemical test is not a mandatory requirement and the arresting officer will even go as far as indicating what the penalties for refusing to take the test are. Therefore, it is completely up to the person being asked to submit to the test.
Under normal circumstances, there is nothing that the Texas police can do to force anyone to submit to a breathalyzer or other test. However, there may be extenuating circumstances in which these rules do not apply and the test must be taken.
For example, having certain previous convictions will mean someone cannot refuse a breathalyzer test when requested. These convictions include:
A prior DWI conviction with a child passenger in the vehicle
A prior conviction for intoxication manslaughter
A prior conviction for intoxication assault
Two prior DWI convictions
Accidents that involve a serious injury or death are also grounds for being forced to do the test even in the face of a refusal.
Does a DWI Arrest Translate to a Guilty Verdict?
Many people believe that being arrested for a DWI will automatically translate to a guilty verdict. However, this is not the case. By that logic, so long as an officer brought someone in for an offense, that person would automatically be guilty, which is most certainly not the case.
Remember that the only thing needed for an arrest to be made is probable cause. Therefore, wrong arrests are being made all the time.
For a jury to convict someone of a DWI, there must be proof beyond any reasonable doubt. A DWI arrest is based on the officer's opinion, and there is no reason why that opinion could not potentially be flawed.
If you are a minor, find out what happens if you get a DUI under 18.
Is It Possible to Have an Inaccurate Alcohol Test Result?
Yes, the test results of chemical tests are not foolproof. In fact, this is often a huge part of the case that defense attorneys will build, assuming there aren't other glaring problems in the way the arrest was executed, such as the constitutional implications.
As indicated before, blood tests are the most accurate of the three, However, for them to provide accurate information, they must be handled properly, which is not always the case. Additionally, if the analysis isn't performed early enough, the coagulated state of the blood can yield an incorrect reading, which is higher than it should be.
The partition ratio used by the breath test is perhaps its biggest flaw. That's because the same ratio is applied to everyone taking the test. Unfortunately, even the same person can have a different ratio at different points in life.
Finally, there is the urine test, which is susceptible to a broad range of laboratory errors. One of the biggest problems is the conversion from urine to blood alcohol content, which can be way off.
Schedule a Free No Obligation Consultation with a Competent Fort Worth DUI Defense Attorney Today!
While detecting a person's blood alcohol concentration is a big part of making an arrest, there are a lot of concerns with the way the process is carried out. Some people, when asked to submit to a test may refuse, which translates to several consequences.
Even if you refused to take your test, a qualified and experienced defense attorney can still work with you. Bear in mind that your attorney-client relationship means no sensitive or confidential information provided will be shared with anyone, so it's in your best interest to provide your lawyer with all the possible details.
Do you need a Fort Worth DUI defense attorney to represent you? Schedule a free evaluation today with Sparks Law Firm by calling (817) 381-7846.