The results of chemical tests are used as evidence in DWI cases. Under implied consent laws, motorists arrested for driving while intoxicated are presumed to have permitted law enforcement officials or other authorized personnel to take samples of their blood or breath for analysis. Still, individuals can refuse to submit to testing, and none will be given. Yet, a refusal has several implications, including providing further evidence for the prosecution and losing driving privileges.
What Are DWI Chemical Tests?
Law enforcement officials commonly use chemical tests to determine the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of individuals suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI). These tests include blood and breath analyses.
In Texas, the legal BAC limit is 0.08. The law presumes that anyone caught driving with an alcohol concentration at that level or higher is impaired.
Law enforcement officials and prosecutors must provide evidence to prove that you were driving with an unlawful BAC. The results of the chemical test can serve as support for their arguments.
Note that chemical tests are different from preliminary breath tests. A preliminary breath test is one a police officer gives on the side of the road after pulling over a DWI suspect. The assessment is used to establish probable cause to arrest the individual.
In contrast, the chemical test (also called an evidentiary test) is given after the person has been arrested and taken into custody. It is used to build a case against the accused.
WHAT IS THE IMPLIED CONSENT LAW?
The implied consent law is a piece of legislation concerning submission to chemical tests in a DWI matter. It provides that when an individual is arrested for driving while intoxicated, they are deemed to have given permission to have a blood or breath sample taken for analysis.
The implied consent law applies only to the evidentiary tests, not the preliminary breath test. The distinction is important because refusing a chemical test has implications that refusing a preliminary breath test doesn’t.
What Happens If You Refuse a Chemical Test?
Refusing a chemical test can have serious consequences. First, the officer will have you sign a statement noting that you were directed to provide a blood or breath sample, the officer informed you that you could lose your driver’s license if you refused, and you still declined to submit to the test. Depending on the situation, the officer might request a warrant to compel your participation in a chemical test.
Next, the officer will take your driver’s license and issue a temporary driving permit. They will also give you a notice of suspension or revocation.
Additionally, your refusal can be used as evidence against you in court.
Finally, refusing to submit to a chemical test will result in driver’s license suspension for at least 180 days. In contrast, if you provide a specimen and the results show that you had an unlawful BAC, you may lose your driving privileges for only half that time: at least 90 days.
If your driver’s license is suspended for a chemical test refusal or failure, you can contest the action. However, to do so, you must request an administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing within 15 days of receiving the notice of suspension.
CAN YOU STILL BE CONVICTED OF A DWI IF YOU REFUSE A BREATH OR BLOOD TEST?
Refusing a chemical test might seem like it would shield you from the legal ramifications of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. However, that’s not necessarily true.
Texas’s DWI law does not just prohibit operating a vehicle with a BAC at or above 0.08. It also makes it illegal for someone to drive while intoxicated. That means their normal faculties were impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.
Prosecutors rely on many other factors to establish proof that someone was driving while impaired. For example, they might point to the arresting officer’s testimony that the motorist exhibited erratic behaviors or had bloodshot eyes or slurred speech.
Thus, even though you might have refused a blood or breath test, you can still be convicted of a DWI if other evidence supports the argument that you violated the law.
HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP YOU?
A criminal defense lawyer can be invaluable if you are charged with a DWI. Whether you refused a chemical test, an attorney can review the facts, work diligently to safeguard your rights, and seek a favorable outcome. Additionally, they may represent you during an ALR hearing to protect your driver’s license.
To speak with one of our Dallas lawyers at Deandra Grant Law, please contact us at (214) 225-7117.