In: Drunk Driving Charges

What are the consequences of alcohol testing refusal in Texas?

In a previous post, we wrote about the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling which held that states may not impose criminal penalties upon drunk drivers for refusing to submit to blood testing under state implied consent laws. As we noted, the ruling does not prohibit states from imposing criminal penalties upon drivers who refuse breath testing under state implied consent laws.

In Texas, law enforcement officers are required to provide drunk-driving suspects notice of various points of law before taking a specimen. For those who have been charged with a drunk-driving related offense and who have had penalties imposed upon them for refusing to submit to testing, it is important to be aware of the law and to scrutinize police action in their case.

The following are some of the points of law for which a motorist must be provided notice prior to an officer’s request for a specimen:

  • Refusal to submit may be used as evidence against the suspect in a future criminal case
  • A driver who refuses to submit will have his or her license automatically suspended for at least 180 days, whether or not there is a future criminal case
  • The officer requesting the specimen may apply for a warrant and be able to obtain a specimen even if the suspect refuses to submit
  • A minor who is found to have a blood alcohol concentration which meets the legal limit of 0.08 will have his or her driver’s license suspended for at least 90 days, and a minor who has any alcohol in his or her system will have a license suspension of at least 60 days
  • The suspect has the right to a hearing on the driver’s license suspension, as long as they make a timely request for a hearing

Lawyers differ on whether it is best for drunk-driving suspects to submit to alcohol testing when it is requested. Regardless of the decision a driver makes about whether to submit, it is critical to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to build the best possible defense in their case if they do end up being charged with an offense.

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