You’ve been out with some friends and had a couple drinks. As you drive home, suddenly you see red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirrors and hear the siren coming from a police officer’s vehicle. You feel your heart drop into the pit of your stomach and begin wondering, “What do I do now? If the officer asks me to blow in a machine or take my blood, should I agree?”
All states in the U.S. have some form of what is known as the implied consent law. Basically, the law says that by choosing to drive on the roads in Texas, it is assumed that you will agree to blood or breathe testing to determine if you have alcohol in your body. The Texas statute states:
“CONSENT TO TAKING OF SPECIMEN. (a) If a person is arrested for an offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was operating a motor vehicle in a public place, or a watercraft, while intoxicated, or an offense under Section 106.041, Alcoholic Beverage Code, the person is deemed to have consented, subject to this chapter, to submit to the taking of one or more specimens of the person’s breath or blood for analysis to determine the alcohol concentration or the presence in the person’s body of a controlled substance, drug, dangerous drug, or other substance,” Transportation Code, Chapter 724. Implied Consent, Subchapter A., Sec. 724.011.
What if you refuse to give a sample at the traffic stop? You have a right to refuse to give a voluntary sample, but that’s not to say there won’t be consequences. If you are arrested for suspicion of DWI, the officer will read a form informing you that your refusal to give a sample can be used against you in a court of law.
Additionally, the Texas Department of Public Safety can potentially suspend your license for a minimum of 180 days. If you had a prior license suspension from an alcohol related incident in the past 10 years, DPS can suspend the license up to two years. Requesting a hearing to fight the suspension within 15 days of the arrest could possibly lead to no suspension at all.
Furthermore, the arresting officer can request a search warrant from a judge to obtain a blood sample without permission. In some cases, refusing may help with avoiding a DWI conviction but every situation is different.
If your license is suspended for refusing to take a test, you may be able to apply for an occupational license that will allow to drive to and from work, as well as for household needs.
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