Can You Refuse A Breathalyzer In Texas?

The Marble Team

Can You Refuse A Breathalyzer In Texas?

| 5 min
6 minutes

Did you ever hear the phrase, “every action has a consequence?” Well, refusing a breathalyzer test in Texas is no exception. Legally, you’re fully entitled to refuse the test, but there are consequences if you do so.

Drivers might refuse to take a breathalyzer for several reasons. Some people might have a genuine, health-related cause for concern, such as asthma. However, others may have an ulterior motive, like knowing that they’re drunk and having no wish to incriminate themselves.

By saying “No” to the officer at the roadside, you’re potentially setting off a damaging chain of events, but, equally, you could be saving yourself from deeper trouble. So read on to understand the full consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test in Texas. 

We’ll explain what happens after your refusal, the penalties and potential extra sanctions, plus why robust legal representation is a must if you ever find yourself in this situation.

Does Texas Differ From Other States?

All states across America agree that anyone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher will face a charge of DWI (driving while intoxicated). In some states, you can still face charges with a BAC lower than 0.08%.

Every state has legislation covering aggravated charges for anyone who's highly intoxicated. In Texas, that applies to drivers who exhibit BAC exceeding 0.15%. All states also have strict zero-tolerance policies for minors. For example, it’s a severe offense in Texas for drivers under 21 to have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.

Some states differentiate between a DWI and a DUI (driving under the influence). In such cases, a DWI exclusively refers to drunk driving, whereas DUI applies when you’re under the influence of alcohol, medical or recreational drugs, or a combination of these. In Texas, a DUI and DWI effectively amount to the same thing: the key point is that you’re driving while impaired, regardless of the reason for that impairment.

Overall, while there are some individual differences in the details, a DWI is a serious offense in all 50 states - and that also applies to refusing a breathalyzer test.

You Can Refuse A Test - But Prepare For The Outcome

When you sign up for a driver’s license in Texas, you effectively agree to many terms and conditions. This is known as implied consent, and it means that if you refuse a breathalyzer or other subsequent chemical tests, you’re breaking the law and will likely face the consequences.

In some exceptional circumstances, testing is mandatory. This is the case if there’s an accident involving a fatality or major injury or if you have serious, prior convictions related to drunk driving. Still, in most circumstances, you’re well within your rights to refuse a breathalyzer. The officers may still ask you to perform a Field Sobriety Test, but again you’re under no compulsion to agree.

So let’s now look at what happens after you’ve refused a roadside breathalyzer test.

You’ll Still Have To Get Properly Tested At The Station

After a refusal, the officer will explain the consequences to you, arrest you on suspicion of DWI, and take you back to the station for further chemical tests. You can also refuse these tests, but doing so may not help your case: in court, a jury might believe the prosecution when they claim that you refused the test because you knew that you were drunk.

You’ll Face A License Suspension

When you refuse a breathalyzer, the automatic penalty is a license suspension of 180 days. Some drivers may compare that to the penalties for a DWI and decide that they’ll take this six-month suspension. However, they should remember that they could still be convicted without evidence from chemical tests. In such cases, a sentencing judge could take a very dim view of their refusal.

Previous Offenses Will Make Things Worse

If you’ve been convicted of any previous DWI-related offenses, you could find yourself in even bigger trouble. Any prior DWI-related convictions could result in a suspended license for up to two years following a refusal.

Refusing Officers Will Likely Lead To Them Pursuing You Even More Vigorously

Law enforcement officers know that they can only stop you when they have probable cause to suspect that you’re driving under the influence. By refusing to take the test, you’re essentially questioning their judgment. They may take your refusal personally, with the result that they work twice as hard to secure a charge. But that shouldn’t stop you from standing up for your rights. Although the officers might not appreciate what you’re doing, they also have to work by the rules of the law. 

One final point here. Don’t be tempted to play it smart or take a confrontational approach towards the police. You can significantly help your cause by remaining polite and courteous - but firm - at all times.

Get Legal Representation For The Best Outcome

You likely don’t know the DUI laws inside out like law enforcement officers do. That’s why it’s so crucial in a DWI case to gain the support of a trusted DUI lawyer who has in-depth knowledge of the area. An experienced DUI attorney will argue your case, ensure all your rights are fully protected, and help to secure the best possible outcome.

Moreover, if you find yourself facing a DWI in Texas, a DUI defense attorney may also be able to help with pleading it down to a lesser Wet Reckless charge. 

Bottom Line

The easiest way to avoid the sanctions for a DWI or breathalyzer refusal is simply to never, ever drink and drive in the first place. But if you find yourself in trouble, a skilled DUI defense lawyer can make all the difference to the outcome of your case. Call the dedicated team at Marble now for a free initial case assessment.

6 minutes
Dec 30, 2020
The Marble Team