Under Texas law, an individual can be stopped and arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) when he or she operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) to the point where they are intoxicated. The law states that an individual is legally considered to be intoxicated if he or she does not have the normal use of mental and/or physical faculties due to the consumption of alcohol or other substance, or has a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you are stopped under suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Texas, here are a few things you should know.
Implied Consent Under Texas Law
A law enforcement officer can stop a driver in Texas when the officer has a reasonable suspicion the person has committed a traffic offense or is intoxicated and driving unsafely. He or she can attempt to determine a level of impairment by administering field sobriety tests. If the driver is arrested, the officer can then ask for a blood or breath test to analyze the driver’s BAC or level of drugs in their system.
Have you heard of the doctrine of implied consent? Texas law states that when someone gets a Texas state driver’s license, that person gives his or her consent for a blood or breath sample if ever stopped for possible DWI. That is, having a Texas driver’s license implies that permission is granted upon request to have blood or breath tests administered.
Should I Refuse Breath or Blood Tests?
A law enforcement officer may request a blood or breath test, but without a warrant, you are within your rights to refuse. So, should you refuse the testing? Drivers have the choice to refuse but will likely face penalties if they do.
Texas law enforcement officers are required by law to explain the consequences of refusing a test, should a driver not want to provide a breath or blood sample when being questioned after a DWI stop. They must explain that drivers can be fined, lose their driver’s licenses, and/or face jail time if later convicted of a DWI.
Note: a refusal often will be used as evidence in court that you were intoxicated–the prosecutor may argue that the refusal is an admission of guilt, suggesting that the driver only refused because the driver knew he or she would fail the test.
The Right to a Legal Defense
A DWI conviction can seriously impact your freedom and future, so it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney experienced with handling DWI cases if you are stopped and arrested for a DWI offense. Your attorney will evaluate the legality of your arrest, looking for potential errors on the part of law enforcement, including violations of your constitutional rights. He will use any errors or irregularities to challenge the DWI charges, negotiating on your behalf to reach the best outcome possible.
Collin Evans of Collin Evans Law is a Houston DWI attorney with over a decade of experience and success handling DWI cases. He can help you navigate Texas DWI laws and understand your rights. Contact Collin Evans Law online or by phone for a free consultation about how to fight the DWI charges against you.