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Texas Implied Consent and Refusing DWI Tests

Posted on May 8, 2024 in

In Texas, a driver’s license comes with “implied consent.” Meaning you agree to undergo alcohol or drug testing when arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). But, you retain the right to refuse this testing with consequences.

If you refuse, law enforcement needs a warrant to obtain a blood sample. But, during “no-refusal” weekends, police have easier access to warrants, including after-hours judges and electronic warrant systems. Here is what you need to know.

How Texas Implied Consent Works

Under the Texas “implied consent” law, if an officer suspects you of impaired driving, you are obligated to undergo chemical testing, and the officer decides the test. You could face DWI charges if you are caught operating your vehicle while intoxicated, even if you are not actively driving. Chapter 724 of the Texas Transportation Code, known as the “Implied Consent” law, outlines the procedures and consequences related to chemical testing for individuals suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI). Police may take you into custody for a suspected DWI if your:

  1. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds .08 percent, as determined by a legally compliant chemical test.
  2. Mental or physical capabilities are impaired, as judged by arresting officers’ subjective observations.

After a DWI arrest in Texas, you face administrative penalties before a conviction. If you are found guilty of DWI, the penalties vary. For your First DWI, which is a Class B Misdemeanor, you can expect to face a minimum 72-hour jail sentence and fines or other related costs. A second DWI will typically be tried as a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by as much as 30 days to one year in jail, plus additional fines, and a potential license suspension.

Refusing DWI Tests in Texas

When you can refuse BAC testing, including breathalyzer, blood, and field sobriety tests it triggers Texas’s implied consent statute. This imposes criminal charges for refusal alongside DWI allegations. But you can request an independent chemical test to challenge the breathalyzer results.

Question the equipment’s accuracy or the officer’s credentials. Consider options like deferred adjudication or plea bargains to minimize penalties. While refusal itself is not a crime, it is a violation of the state’s implied consent law, and the consequences could include:

  • A first-time refusal results in a 180-day license suspension, while subsequent refusals lead to a two-year suspension.
  • Your refusal can be used as evidence against you in court, even without BAC evidence. Police testimony on your perceived intoxication can be enough for a conviction.

You Can Defend Consent DWI Laws in Texas

Texas law is clear on implied consent for DWI testing. Potential defenses are available for those charged. One viable defense option could be if the accused was unable to make an informed decision due to mental illness; their refusal of testing might be considered invalid.

Another potential defense is a medical condition like dementia, where one might not understand police instructions. These defenses are complex and require legal expertise to navigate successfully. A DWI conviction can have serious consequences, impacting your career, reputation, and even your freedom.

If you were stopped for suspected drunk driving, you may be facing a challenging situation. You must protect yourself while dealing with police who may quickly arrest you, even with little proof. Officers might feel it’s better to be safe than sorry, and arrest drivers to avoid the risk of them causing accidents.