When it comes to routine traffic stops, police officers initially pull the vehicle over for violating a traffic law. Failing to stop at a stop sign, driving too fast or too slowly or swerving in and out of traffic are all common reasons for an officer to stop a vehicle.
However, a routine traffic stop can quickly turn into a DWI stop if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the driver has been drinking. Law enforcement is trained to look for signs of intoxication, including:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Erratic behavior
If the officer observes any of these signs, they may have the probable cause that they need to arrest the driver for drunk driving. The officer may request the driver to submit to a chemical breath test. The chemical breath test will measure the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the driver and the driver will be considered legally intoxicated with a BAC of .08 or higher.
Consequences of a breath test refusal
As a licensed driver in Texas, implied consent laws require you to submit to a chemical breath test upon arrest, if requested by law enforcement. If you refuse a chemical breath test, your license will be suspended for 180 days, assuming it is your first DWI offense (the length of the suspension increases for second and third offenses). You will then have 15 days to request a hearing to possibly prevent the revocation of your license.
Can an officer force me to submit to a test?
Generally, an officer can only require you to submit to a breath or blood test against your will under certain circumstances. You cannot generally refuse a test if:
- You were involved in an accident involving a serious injury or death.
- You have one or more prior DWI convictions (as listed in Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code).
While losing your license for a minimum of 6 months can be difficult to manage, refusing a breath test may make it more difficult for prosecutors to prove their case against you. A criminal defense attorney can advise you on what to do following your DWI arrest.