You probably already know that you have the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent, and the right to avoid self-incrimination.
People sometimes misunderstand the application of these rights and may jump to conclusions about what police officers can and cannot do when investigating impaired driving charges. For example, people often think they can refuse the chemical test during a traffic stop. A chemical test is typically a breath or blood test for drugs or alcohol active in a person’s body. However, Texas has an implied consent law. You have already given consent to chemical testing when an officer has probable cause to suspect you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Given that implied consent is one of the conditions of driving on public roads in Texas, what happens if you refuse a chemical test and violate the implied consent law?
You will likely lose your license
The most significant penalty for refusing a chemical test is that the officer will likely immediately arrest you and take your license when doing so, although you will receive a temporary permit. You only have seven days to appeal that move, or you will likely need to serve an administrative suspension of your license.
If this was the first time you refused a chemical test, the suspension will typically last for 180 days. Those with prior refusals on their license could lose their driving privileges for up to two years. Those who attend a hearing about the suspension of their license could potentially avoid the loss of their driving privileges if they have a compelling defense.
Your refusal won’t save you from drunk driving charges
It’s important for those stopped by the police to understand that simply refusing Chemical Testing will not prevent the state from charging them with a drunk driving offense. Prosecutors can use evidence including the reason that the officer conducted the traffic stop, statements made to police, a person’s conduct at the time of the interaction with police, and someone’s performance on field sobriety tests to convince the prosecutors that they were driving while intoxicated. Officers will also get permission from a judge to do chemical testing at the time of arrest even though you already refused.
An officer might also use your refusal to perform a chemical test as evidence of guilt. Understanding the rules that apply to impaired driving charges and traffic stops in Texas will help you better handle your interaction with law enforcement or any criminal consequences that result.
Even though the administrative penalties can be a major inconvenience, they are less serious than the penalties of a convicted DWI. If you have recently been pulled over or arrested for a DWI and refused a blood or breath test, contact an experienced DWI lawyer as soon as possible. DWI cases and implied consent laws can be confusing to navigate alone; having the help of a knowledgeable DWI attorney is invaluable to ensuring your rights are protected.
To inquire about how the Law Offices of Ramos & Del Cueto in Bexar County, TX can assist you in your case, call 210-761-6004.