After a night out with friends, you choose to drive home after drinking. You commit a minor traffic violation, and an officer pulls you over. Believing you will fail a breathalyzer test due to your alcohol consumption, the officer administers a BAC. Instead of breathalyzing, however, you legally do not consent to the test.
Texas state law does not require you to submit to a preliminary breath test at the scene of a DUI stop. Unfortunately, due to the Implied Consent law, you may face other charges by refusing to consent. It is essential to speak with an attorney, if possible, before you breathalyze, as he or she can advise you to make the most informed decision. Weighing both DUI charges and breathalyzer refusal charges, you can determine whether submitting to a breath test will hurt or help your alleged DUI charge.
The Implied Consent Law
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), every 20 minutes, an individual is injured or killed in a vehicle crash involving an intoxicated driver. The state works to enforce safe driving, and this includes stopping drivers that exhibit signs of intoxication.
Under the Implied Consent Law, if you hold a valid driver’s license in Texas, you automatically consent to any roadside chemical test to determine whether you will prove intoxicated. Therefore, when you choose to refuse a breathalyzer test administered by a police officer, you commit a crime subject to penalties.
If you refuse a breathalyzer test, you may be subject to 180 days of license suspension. This penalty will add to your DUI charge if a court finds you guilty of driving while drunk.
Weighing the penalties and utilizing lawyer expertise
If your blood-alcohol level, determined at the station after your alleged DUI and your refusal to breathalyze, is deemed to read over .15% BAC, your charges increase from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor.
Class B misdemeanor penalties for a BAC lower than .15% include:
- A fine of up to $2,000
- 3 to 180 days in jail
- Driver’s license suspension of up to one year
Your DUI penalties increase with the move intoxicated you prove. A Class A misdemeanor charge of a BAC higher than .15% include:
- A fine of up to $4,000
- Up to one year in jail
- Driver’s license suspension of up to two years
Some adults worry that their BAC level will read over .15% at the time of the arrest, so they opt to refuse the breathalyzer during the traffic stop. When dealing with DUI charges, you will want to speak with an attorney before breathalyzing if possible to determine your best options. Should an officer arrest you, hiring a criminal defense attorney is crucial in avoiding or lowering DUI charges in Texas.