You might be driving home after a few drinks at a party when you see red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. You pull over, hoping the police will drive by your vehicle in pursuit of another motorist. Unfortunately, no, they stop behind you and the next thing you know, you’re being asked to perform a breath test to determine your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC).
This can be an unpleasant request at best and an intimidating one at worst. After all, you might not feel drunk or even “buzzed” so taking a breath test seems pointless. Or, you may think that the results of such a test would not be in your favor. You may even wonder if it is within the power of the police to ask you to perform such a test. It is tempting in such situations to decline taking a breath test. It is important to note, however, that saying “no” to a breath test in Texas does have consequences.
This is because Texas follows the doctrine of “implied consent.” Basically, this means that as part of the privilege of operating a vehicle in the state, all drivers automatically agree to submit to a breath test if asked. If a driver refuses to do so when police have reasonable suspicion to believe they are drunk, their driver’s license will be suspended for a period of 180 days for a first offense and two years for a subsequent offense.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that over 20% of those accused of drunk driving say “no” when asked to perform a breath test. While this number varies from state to state, it shows that some people decide refusing a test is in their best interests. However, while there may be some leverage when it comes to defending against drunk driving charges to refuse a breath test, motorists who do so need to be prepared to understand the penalties for doing so. This post does not contain legal advice, so it is important that if you want to learn more about how implied consent laws in Texas work that you speak to an attorney.