Take or Not to Take a Breathalyzer Test?
Getting pulled over is always a stressful experience, and your stress levels can shoot through the roof if the officer starts suspecting that you might be intoxicated. The officer might ask you questions, such as whether you have been drinking, where you are heading, and more. If the officer notices signs of impairment, they will likely request that you submit a breath sample to a breathalyzer device. This device reads your blood alcohol content (BAC), so the officer can tell if you are over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
You might have heard that you should never “blow” into a breathalyzer. However, there are serious consequences that might be imposed if you refuse to blow. The question remains: should you or should you not take a breathalyzer test at a traffic stop?
Implied Consent Law in Texas
Like every state, Texas has an “implied consent” law that relates to drunk driving. If you choose to drive a vehicle on the roads of Texas, and an officer then suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol, your consent to submit to a chemical test is implied. However, this does not mean that you do not have the right to refuse the breath test anyway.
An officer cannot force you to provide a breath sample for a breathalyzer device. Instead, if you refuse a test or are unable to provide a breath sample, the implied consent law imposes a penalty on you. Even if you are not subsequently convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI), you can still face the following for the refusal itself:
- First offense = Suspension of your driver’s license for 180 days
- Second or third offense = Suspension of your driver’s license for two years
Can You be Convicted of DWI if You Refuse a Breath Test?
Many people decide that a refusal is worth the possible license suspension since they think they will automatically avoid a DWI conviction without proof of their BAC. However, a DWI conviction does not require a BAC reading from a breathalyzer. Instead, the prosecutor can use the observations of the arresting officer as evidence of your impairment. The officer might testify to the following observations:
- Slurring your speech
- Having watery or red eyes
- Seeming disoriented
- Dozing off
- Stumbling and losing your balance
- Having poor judgment
- Erratic driving prior to the traffic stop
While the right defense attorney can challenge these observations, they can still be used as evidence against you in many cases.
Overall, submitting to a breath test will indicate your BAC to the court, while refusing to submit a breath sample can result in additional penalties while not automatically preventing a conviction. No matter what you choose, you need a skilled defense attorney on your side.
Contact Fort Worth DWI Defense Attorney Kyle Whitaker for the Assistance You Need
DWI defense attorney Kyle Whitaker represents clients who chose to participate in a breathalyzer and who chose to refuse. Call 817-332-7703 or contact us online if you have been accused of DWI in the Fort Worth area, so the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker can assist in your case.