Texas takes certain crimes very seriously and driving while impaired (DWI) is one of them. Especially for repeat offenders, there are significant consequences that can result from a conviction or guilty plea. Those consequences include hefty fines, loss of your license and jail time.
It’s no wonder then, that many people choose to defend against criminal charges related to impaired driving. Taking a proactive stance against pending charges is a good decision.
However, you should be careful not to make decisions that could make it harder to defend yourself in court. Anything you say and do during a traffic stop or while in state custody could help law enforcement build a stronger case against you.
Breath tests are often unreliable, but refusing them is a crime
People facing DWI charges usually either got pulled over by law enforcement or caught up in a roadblock intended for enforcement purposes. Regardless of why law enforcement stopped you, if your speech or your behavior implies that you’ve been drinking, law enforcement will have probable cause to ask you for a chemical test.
Typically, this test is a breath test that looks for alcohol molecules as you exhale into the machine. These machines are prone to mistakes, and that might make you feel like you should decline to take the test. However, refusing the test could actually hurt you in the long run. You will likely still end up arrested and in jail overnight. You will also likely still face criminal charges. That will be in addition to the penalties for refusing a breath test.
Texas expects all drivers to submit to testing under reasonable suspicion
If law enforcement have probable cause to request a breath test, you have already given implied consent for that testing. Texas law is very clear. Anyone who drives on Texas roads agrees to give implied consent for chemical testing.
The intent here is to keep the roads as safe as possible for everyone. If you violate the implied consent law, you will likely end up arrested and in jail overnight. More importantly, you will face other penalties, including the loss of your license. Any penalty associated with refusing a test will be in addition to penalties for a DWI conviction.
Refusing a test can hurt your defense
You need to understand that refusing a test will not prevent the state from building a case against you for a DWI charge. Instead, it may actually help their case. Law enforcement officers can testify to your behavior during the traffic stop, including your refusal.
The courts are allowed to consider that refusal acknowledgment of potential guilt. In other words, refusing a breath test not only results in additional consequences, but can also help the state convict you.