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What happens if you refuse the breathalyzer test in Texas?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2023 | Criminal Defense

You’re driving home after an evening out with a couple of friends. Suddenly, you spot law those red and blue lights flashing through your rearview mirror. It is the police. And they are signaling you to stop. The next thing you know, they ask you to take a breathalyzer test to ascertain your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. In short, you are under investigation for drunk driving.

If law enforcement suspects you are driving while intoxicated (DWI), they will pull you over for further investigation. Part of this might involve administering a breathalyzer test. And this is where the big question arises: can you refuse this test?

Texas is an implied content state

The decision to submit to or refuse a breathalyzer test is entirely yours to make. Before you do so, however, you need to understand that Texas, like all states, applies the implied consent doctrine. Basically, this means that by driving on Texas’ public roads, you will be giving law enforcement the implicit consent to administer a chemical test should they have credible reason to believe that you are drunk behind the wheel. Thus, the following consequences apply if you refuse the breathalyzer test:

Automatic suspension of your driver’s license

Your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for 180 days if you refuse to take the breathalyzer test. Additionally, you will pay a $2,000 fine. Subsequent refusals will lead to stiffer penalties.

Your refusal may be used against you

Of course, without proof that you were drunk at the time of the arrest, the prosecution would have a difficult time securing a conviction. However, nothing will stop them from arguing that your refusal to take the test meant that you were trying to hide something after all. And this kind of logic can effectively persuade the court.

Driving while intoxicated is a serious personal and legal misstep. You’ll need help to examine your defense options if charged with drunk driving or refusing the breathalyzer test.