What Happens if I Refuse a Breathalyzer in Texas?
Texas severely punishes those who violate laws on driving while intoxicated (DWI), and some would argue that the penalties for a conviction are even harsher than other states. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit of .08 percent, a first-time offense is a Class B Misdemeanor. You face up to 180 days of incarceration and a maximum fine of $2,000. However, when your BAC exceeds .15 percent, the crime is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a fine up to $4,000.
From this brief overview, you can see that your BAC is an important factor in a Texas drunk driving case. Under the circumstances, you probably assume that it is in your best interests to make sure officers do NOT get this key piece of evidence. This assumption is not entirely true for reasons a Houston DWI defense lawyer can explain in more detail. You can also review some basics on what happens if you refuse a breathalyzer.
Details on Texas’ Implied Consent Law
The key to understanding the implications of refusing a breathalyzer is the Texas implied consent law. The statute provides that you implicitly agree to submit to chemical testing upon arrest for drunk driving, and it is essentially a condition attached to your driver’s license. There are penalties if you do not uphold your end of the bargain by complying with a request for a breath, blood, or urine test. If you refuse:
- Your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days for a first-time refusal; and
- You will lose your driving privileges for up to two years if you have a prior DWI or refused a chemical test in the past.
These penalties do not apply to a roadside breathalyzer test; a refusal to blow only operates when you have already been arrested.
Special Considerations to Note
It is important to keep in mind that refusing to blow does not guarantee you will avoid drunk driving charges. Police can still base a DWI arrest upon intoxication, which does not require proof of BAC at all. If officers observe that you do not have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties because of alcohol, you will face charges. Drunk driving is a separate offense from refusing to blow, you also face the penalties for a DWI conviction mentioned above.
You should also realize that police may have the authority to collect a chemical sample despite your refusal. They can compel a blood or breathalyzer test if you were:
- Previously convicted of DWI with a child in the vehicle;
- Involved in a DWI accident that caused injury or death; or
- Convicted twice for drunk driving in the past.
Discuss Your Options with Our Houston Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys
The decision of whether to do a breathalyzer is up to you, but keep in mind that there are strategies to defend Texas DWI charges despite your BAC. To learn more about them, please contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates. You can set up a consultation by calling 281-280-0100 or visiting our website.