If you’re pulled over and suspected of drinking while driving, also know as driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, it’s important to know your rights. The laws regarding DWI in Texas are complex and continue to evolve. If a police officer asks you to take a breathalyzer test, you may not know whether or not you’re legally obligated to do so. Here’s what you should know about your right to refuse a breathalyzer test in Houston and elsewhere in Texas:
Texas’ Implied Consent Laws
Prior to November 28, 2014, the state of Texas had in place what were referred to as implied consent laws. Under these laws, a person who was pulled over for a DWI was obligated to consent to a breathalyzer or blood test if requested to do so. And if that person refused, then a blood or breath sample could be taken regardless. However, the Supreme Court ruled that taking the breath or the blood of a person without a warrant—unless the individual volunteers to give breath or blood—is unconstitutional.
Penalties for Refusal to Submit to Breathalyzer or Blood Test
However, just because the Supreme Court ruled that a warrant may be required to take a person’s blood or breath does not mean that there aren’t potential consequences for refusing a blood or a breath test. While you do have the right to refuse to submit to either, there may be legal repercussions for doing so. These repercussions include:
- 180-day license suspension for a first-time DWI offense
- Two-year license suspension for a second DWI offense
- Two-year license suspension for a third DWI offense
While there is a penalty for refusing to take a breathalyzer or a blood test, it’s important to note that if you do refuse, it may be harder for the prosecutor to actually convict you of a DWI based on a lack of blood alcohol content evidence.
Is there any way to avoid a license suspension?
If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, then it’s likely that your license will be suspended. However, you have a 15-day window to request a hearing to prevent your license from being revoked. If you do not request a hearing within the 15-day period, your right to the hearing to prevent revocation will be lost. The same thing is true if you take a breathalyzer and fail; you are still entitled to the 15-day window for a hearing.
Contact a Houston DWI Attorney Immediately
Because you only have 15 days to request a hearing—and present your case if your hearing is approved—it’s essential that you seek legal counsel immediately following an arrest. To meet with an attorney today, call the team at Johnson, Johnson & Baer, P.C. now at (713) 222-0400 for a free case review.