Technically, no. After being arrested and charged with a DWI, drivers are within their rights to choose not to take a breath or blood blood alcohol content (BAC) test. However, refusing to submit to chemical tests has serious consequences under Texas’ implied consent laws.
In Texas, the implied consent law states that if a person is arrested for an offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was operating a motor vehicle in a public place, the person is deemed to have consented to submit to testing in order to determine the alcohol concentration in the persons body. Put simply, anyone driving on public roads in Texas has agreed to a chemical test.
If someone is lawfully arrested for a DWI in Texas and refuses to submit to a BAC test, they will face an administrative penalty in addition to the standard penalties for DWI. Even if acquitted of DWI charges, these administrative penalties still apply:
- First Offense: License suspension for 180 days
- Second Offense (within 10 years of DWI arrest): License suspension for 2 years
If an individual’s license is administratively suspended for refusing to take a BAC test, they can apply for an occupational license that permits them drive to and from work, and to perform essential household duties.
Deciding whether or not to take a BAC test is ultimately a personal choice. A person who refuses subjects themselves to stiff penalties. However, by refusing to take the test, a person may be able to avoid a DWI conviction. The administrative penalty for BAC test refusals is much less severe than the penalty for DWI convictions. However, if someone is found guilty of DWI, even after refusing to submit to a BAC test, they will be subjected to those additional administrative penalties as well as standard DWI penalties.
DWIs are serious and have severe consequences. If you refused a chemical BAC test when arrested, you should contact a DUI /DWI lawyer immediately. Your Texas lawyer will be able to help you fight any charges and may be able to help you reduce your penalties.