If you have ever been stopped by a police officer while driving, there is a possibility that the officer could ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test if he or she suspects that you have been driving under the influence. As a licensed driver in Texas, you are automatically subjected to informed consent laws. This means that once you arrested, you are legally required to submit to a breathalyzer if an officer requests it.
However, refusing a breathalyzer may be beneficial for multiple reasons. DWI attorneys and other experts sometimes advise drivers to refuse a breathalyzer for the following reasons.
- Inaccuracies: Breathalyzer test results may be inaccurate for a variety of reasons including the officer’s failure to administer the test and failure to properly calibrate the device.
- Results can help prosecution: Breathalyzer results are often the most important part of a prosecutor’s case, particularly if the BAC level is equal to or above the legal limit of .08. However, if the prosecutor does not have these results to rely on, they will have to use other evidence, such as field sobriety test results and officer observations to build their case. These other forms of evidence are generally not as strong as breath test results, but may still be enough to result in a conviction.
- Limited consequences: Generally, if it is your first time refusing a breath test, you will automatically lose your license for 180 days. However, if you do have a prior refusal, conviction or other “enforcement contact” you could lose your license up to two years. These consequences are serious, but not as bad as having a DWI conviction on your record.
You may not always be able to refuse a test
While refusing a test may be possible and a good idea in some cases, it is not always an option. An officer may be able to obtain a warrant to authorize a blood test even without your consent, particularly if you have a previous DWI conviction or were involved in an accident with a serious injury or fatality. If you have concerns about your DWI arrest, it may be in your best interest to speak to a DWI attorney in your area.