Considering Refusing a Breathalyzer in Texas? Here’s What You Need to Know

You may not understand how the process works if you have never been stopped for suspected drunk driving. The officer will observe you closely to determine whether or not they have a reason to pull you over, and if so, you may be stopped.

Once you begin speaking with the officer, they will pay close attention to how you answer questions and if you may give off an odor of alcohol or show signs of slurring your words. The next step is typically to ask for a series of tests called Field Sobriety Tests.

If the officer feels they have gathered enough evidence, they may request that you submit to a breathalyzer test to determine your Blood Alcohol Content or BAC. If you submit to this test and it’s found that your BAC is higher than the legal limit of .08, you may be arrested for Driving While Intoxicated.

Should I Refuse the Breathalyzer?

Should you refuse the test? You have a legal right to do so, but even without this evidence, you may still end up with charges, and by refusing, you may be subject to losing your license for up to 180 days, regardless of the surrounding circumstances.

It’s important to note that even if you refuse a breathalyzer, the police may pursue other means of obtaining your BAC, such as getting a warrant and a blood sample.

Speak with your experienced attorney to determine how to prepare for any upcoming run-ins with law enforcement, specifically if you have prior DWI convictions on your record, to choose the best option for you.

Can a Refusal Be Used Against You in Court?

Some prosecutors may argue that refusing a breathalyzer is reason enough to prove that you were guilty and, therefore, knew to refuse the test. They may use this and other evidence against you to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of a DWI.

For example, if you refuse a breathalyzer, but it’s shown on camera that you were swerving, being combative with the officers, slurring your words, or other evidence, this may be enough means to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated.

However, a skilled and experienced attorney can form a strong strategy against these tactics and help you get charges reduced or dismissed in many cases.

Other evidence that may make a defense more challenging is if you have a prior conviction of a DWI, if you caused an accident while driving, or if officers witness open alcohol containers in your vehicle when they pull you over.

Another factor that would add to a challenging defense is if there was a child present in the car with you.

What Happens When I Refuse a Breathalyzer in Texas?

If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test in Texas, the officer will immediately confiscate your license and issue you with a temporary written license. You will have 15 days from the date you were pulled over to request a formal hearing before the Department of Safety. This judge and court are generally separate from a DWI court.

If you choose not to schedule a hearing, it’s considered that you have waived your rights, and therefore, the license will be automatically suspended for typically at least 180 days. If you have refused a breathalyzer before or have multiple DWI charges in the past, the suspension may be significantly longer. A typical example may be that if you have a recent DWI charge (within the last ten years) or another refusal on record, you may lose your license for a period of two years.

Complications of a DWI on Your Record

It’s important to realize that refusing to take a breathalyzer may help in some situations but may hurt others. Each situation will be different, as will the prosecutor and your defense attorney.

In some cases, a refusal may help you, as the prosecution may have difficulty providing sufficient proof of your guilt without the evidence. In other scenarios, the prosecution may spin the fact that you refused the test as an admission of guilt.

With a DWI on your record, you may run into challenges in other areas of your life, such as securing a different job, being eligible for loans, obtaining entry into colleges or certification programs of your choice, and more, because a background check will reveal that you have a DWI conviction.

Furthermore, you may be unable to obtain a lease should you need to move, as some landlords may view your conviction as grounds for denial of your application. If you are going into business with someone and a background check is involved, your business partner may question or refuse to enter into business contracts with you due to your DWI.

A DWI will stay on your record permanently in Texas unless you can get it expunged or get your records sealed. Consider working with your attorney to determine your options if you have a DWI conviction. You may be able to petition for nondisclosure of your DWI, barring extenuating circumstances like prior convictions, less than .16 BAC, and more.

Unwavering Commitment to Our Clients

Most attorneys will offer you a consultation only to rush you through a short meeting and not take the time to understand your case’s facts fully.

Our office doesn’t do that, and we pride ourselves on sitting down with our clients to fully grasp the details, hear their concerns and questions, and create a winning strategy against their legal challenges.

Contact our office today at 254-274-2227 to schedule your custom consultation and learn more about your options.