Are You Required By Law to Submit to a BAC Test?
Are you mandated by law to submit to a BAC test when prompted by authorities? This question is complex, so there’s a lot to unpack here.
The first thing you need to understand is the implied consent law. In a nutshell, this law states that anyone with a driver’s license has given their explicit consent to a BAC test if an officer has probable cause to believe they’re impaired. That means you, as a licensed driver in Texas, must agree to a BAC if officers think you’ve been drinking or doing drugs.
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Consequences of Refusing a BAC Test in Texas
Did you know that one American life is lost almost every hour due to drunk driving? These statistics aren’t taken lightly by police departments in Texas. If you refuse to take a BAC in our state, then you’ll undoubtedly face more legal consequences for your actions including an ALR hearing. The authorities will not force you to take a BAC test. Instead, you’ll face the following penalties if you refuse:
- Immediate driver’s license suspension for 180 days (First-time refusal)
- Driver’s license suspension for up to two years (Second-time refusal)
- Driver’s license suspension for up to two years (Third-time refusal)
All of these penalties will be in addition to those levied for your DWI charge. Here’s another important thing to know – even if you’re found not guilty of a DWI, the consequences of refusing the BAC test will remain in place.
Police officers do have the right to seek out a search warrant, which would allow them to take a blood sample without your consent. Despite that, this tactic is rarely used. By the time police officers obtain the warrant, your BAC has usually significantly decreased.
It’s a catch 22 situation. On one hand, refusing a BAC test could help you prevent a DWI conviction. On the other, refusing the test results in automatic legal consequences.
A Police Officer’s Duties Under the Implied Consent Law
The implied consent law does mean that you’ve permitted authorities to test you, but the officer’s powers aren’t unlimited. Authorities can’t just force you to submit to an intoxication test without probable cause.
What counts as probable cause in a DWI situation? First, the arresting officer must have had a valid reason for initiating a traffic stop in the first place. Often, the cop may argue that you violated a traffic law. Police aren’t permitted to pull someone over without reasonable suspicion that they’re breaking or have broken the law.
Authorities must be able to point to specific facts or evidence that led them to believe they needed to pull you over. If authorities can prove this ‘probable cause,’ then they have a right to request a breathalyzer, BAC or field sobriety test. The officer doesn’t have to prove that they believed you were under the influence, but it’s helpful to their case if they can provide specific evidence.
That may have you wondering – are DUI sobriety checkpoints legal? Do I have to submit to a test when the officer didn’t have probable cause to pull me over? In short, probable cause doesn’t apply to sobriety checkpoints. Authorities can request you submit to a test in these situations, even if they don’t have any reason to believe you’re intoxicated.
What happens if you are unconscious when authorities decide to test you? Clearly, an unconscious individual can’t give their explicit consent to be tested. Despite that, authorities work under the assumption that the driver has given their implicit consent in these situations. That means you can have your blood drawn if you’re unconscious or otherwise unable to voice your refusal.
Do I Need a Lawyer After Getting Charged With a DWI in Texas?
We’ve all felt that uneasy feeling in our gut when we’re getting pulled over by the police. Whether you’ve been drinking or not, it’s a jarring experience. When you got pulled over, did you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer? Did officers attempt to draw your blood but you refused?
Regardless of the circumstances of your arrest, it’s a good idea to hire a criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can help you get your charges dropped or have your legal penalties minimized. So, how do you go about hiring a lawyer? Here is what we suggest:
If you’re looking for representation, then our experienced professionals can help. Reach out to our office now to learn more about how we can help.
What should you do if you can’t afford a lawyer after getting charged with a DWI? Don’t make the mistake of feeling like you have to represent yourself. Use your Constitutional right to have a state-appointed lawyer assigned to your case.
Have you been charged with a DWI in Texas and refused a Blood Alcohol Test? Attorney Brett Podolsky can help »
What is the Implied Consent Law?
So, what is the implied consent law in Texas? It’s an official law that states anyone who has a driver’s license must comply with orders to test their impairment levels. The officer who is requesting the test must have probable cause to believe you’re impaired, though. If you refuse to comply, then you’ll face additional criminal consequences.
Drivers who get stopped and accused of drinking and driving are in between a rock and hard place. While you shouldn’t incriminate yourself, you also have to adhere to an officer’s commands if they tell you to take a test.
Were you or a loved one recently accused of driving while impaired? Did you refuse to take a breathalyzer or impairment test? Our expert criminal defense attorneys can help. Reach out to our office now to discuss the specifics of your situation.