What Happens If I Refuse a Breathalyzer?
If you have been stopped because a police officer believes you have been drinking and driving, you may be asked to submit to a Breathalyzer test. A Breathalyzer measures the amount of alcohol in your breath and is ‘calculated’ into a ‘blood’ alcohol level by the machine that is doing the testing. When you drink alcohol, it is not immediately absorbed right away. It passes through the body, including the lungs. The amount of alcohol in the lungs can be used to calculate an individual’s blood alcohol content. Therefore, the Breathalyzer is used to indirectly measure the amount of alcohol in the blood by measuring the amount of alcohol in the driver’s lungs.
According to Texas law, if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, you agreed when you signed up for your drivers license that you would take a blood or breath test that measures your blood alcohol content if requested to by a police officer. This is called implied consent. A law enforcement officer must request and administer the test as soon as possible after driving. Most people have no idea that they ‘agreed’ to this when they obtained their drivers license.
In the last few years, most police departments in the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Collin County areas have ‘no-refusal’ policies. What that means is that if you refuse a breath-test, they will obtain a search warrant and obtain a blood sample from you. This process is usually much more time intensive and requires many more steps for the police to navigate before ultimately obtaining a blood sample. This sample then has to be obtained correctly, processed correctly, stored and transported correctly, and examined correctly. As you can see, just having a ‘blood result’ over the legal limit doesn’t mean you are automatically guilty. There are many ways to fight a refusal case that ends up with a blood test through a search warrant.
When you are pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving, the law enforcement officer is required to tell you—and provide notice in writing—that if you refuse the Breathalyzer test, you will have your license suspended for at least 180 days. Your refusal may also be used against you in court. The officer should also inform you that if you do take the test and your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, your license could be suspended for a minimum of 90 days. After explaining these matters, the officer may ask you to take the Breathalyzer.
If you decide to refuse the Breathalyzer test, you will be asked to sign a form that confirms you were advised of the consequences of doing so. The officer will then take your driver’s license. However, your license is not suspended immediately!! You have 15 days to request an administrative hearing to fight the suspension of your license. If you cannot prove that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop you for driving while intoxicated, then your license will not be reinstated.
If this is your second or third time you have been arrested for DWI, your license could be suspended for up to two years.
In some cases, you have no choice but to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. For example, if you are driving and someone else was seriously injured or killed, a law enforcement officer will require your blood to be tested.
If you are stopped for suspected drinking and driving, there is little time to process your options when it comes to taking or refusing the Breathalyzer, as most citizens have no idea what their actual blood-alcohol level is. It is always within your rights to refuse to provide the officer (and by default the prosecutor and government) with evidence that might incriminate you. Always immediately contact a criminal defense attorney to defend your charges and request that your driver’s license be reinstated. If you were improperly stopped, your charges may be dismissed. In addition, Breathalyzer devices provide faulty readings at times, which may also result in a dismissal of charges. Experienced criminal defense attorneys know how to pinpoint and pursue these defenses.
Contact an experienced Collin County DWI lawyer today for a free consultation
If you have been arrested for DWI, or if your license has been suspended because you refused to take a Breathalyzer, contact Collin County DWI attorney J. Michael Price II today for a free initial consultation. Mike has practiced criminal law for more than 20 years in Texas, and he has helped thousands of clients obtain favorable results. To schedule your free consultation, call 214-465-8000 or contact us online.