From a driver’s perspective, when a police officer has pulled them over and asked them to take a breath test, it can seem like a no-win situation. If you agree, you may be giving the officer evidence that you are drinking and driving. If you refuse, you might be afraid of angering the officer or creating more trouble for yourself.
However, you should know that, in Texas, it is not against the law to decline to take a breath or blood test of your blood-alcohol content (BAC). But this does not mean there are no consequences. And there are two important exceptions to this rule.
What happens if you refuse the chemical test
First, if you decline to take a chemical test after being arrested for DWI, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 180 days. If you have a prior DWI “enforcement contact” (i.e., a DWI conviction, a prior refused test, or a prior failed test), the judge could suspend your license for up to two years.
And if you have been in a car accident involving serious injury or death, or if you have certain prior convictions on your record, you do not have the right to refuse the test.
At festival, the right to decline testing was suspended
In general, you do not have to submit to a breath test during a traffic stop and before an arrest. But it appears that law enforcement can take away the right to refuse. At the recent Poteet Strawberry Festival in Atascosa County, the state Department of Public Safety said it suspended the right to refuse a breath test before arrest.
If you are confused about whether your rights were violated during a recent DWI arrest, consult a defense attorney for more information.