No one likes to get pulled over by law enforcement officers. One reason for this is that many people don’t know their rights during such an encounter. Others know exactly what the law says but they are afraid the police will abuse their power. One area in which this applies is when a driver is suspected of driving while intoxicated. Many drivers are unsure about whether they can refuse to submit a blood draw if they are pulled over in Texas. The short answer is yes but there are consequences. Let’s take a look at what the law says. This will ensure you’re prepared the next time you get behind the wheel in Houston, Texas.
What is the Penalty for a DWI in Texas?
Anyone who is caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent can be charged with a DWI. You can also be charged if your driving is impaired because you used alcohol or drugs. If it is your first offense, you can face:
- Jail time of 3 to 180 days
- Suspension of your license for up to a year
- An annual fee of between $1,000 to $3,000 to retain your license
- A fine of up to $2,000
Many drivers wonder if they can avoid these penalties by refusing a blood test. However, as you’ll see below, it’s not that simple.
Implied Consent and What It Means for Drivers, According to a Houston DWI Attorney
Under state law, a driver who is arrested based on probable cause automatically consents to chemical testing. This is known as the implied consent law. It is assumed that you have agreed to the tests since you are driving on the state’s roads. The Mandatory Blood Draw is covered under Texas Transportation Code § 724.012.
When you are pulled over, the officer may ask you if you’ve been drinking. You don’t have to answer this question. However, the officer can request either a breath or blood test to determine your BAC. If you consent, you have the right to get another test taken by a medical professional of your choice. This must take place within two hours of your arrest and you have to bear the costs.
However, you usually have the right to withdraw your implied consent. An officer cannot force you to undergo testing unless:
- You got into an accident which caused serious injury or death
- You have two prior DWI convictions
- You were previously convicted for intoxication assault, intoxication manslaughter or DWI with a child in the car
If none of these apply, you can refuse. The officer is required to explain the consequences of refusing the test. You have to determine whether it makes sense to refuse. You don’t have the right to speak to an attorney before the test. It is, therefore, important that you know how to proceed.
Ask a DWI Lawyer in Houston: What Happens After You Refuse a Blood Draw in Texas
If you refuse to submit to a test, you will face penalties. If it is your first DWI offense, your license will be suspended for 180 days. If it is your second offense within ten years, you can lose the right to drive for two years. DWI convictions, refusal to be tested and failed DWI tests count as prior offenses.
Upon your refusal to be tested, the officer will take away your license. He will then submit it along with a report about your refusal to the Texas Department of Transportation. You will get a temporary permit which lasts for 41 days. Since you probably use your car for important things like going to work, you can appeal the suspension.
You have 15 days following your arrest to file the appeal. To try to get your license back, you will attend a hearing before an administrative judge. The judge will hear the facts and determine whether you can retain your license in some capacity. It is important that you a have a Houston DWI lawyer with you during the hearing. They will be able to make a convincing case on your behalf since they know the law well.
Whether or not you should refuse the blood draw depends on the circumstances. You can be found guilty of DWI even without test results showing your BAC. The prosecutor may be able to convince a judge and jury that your refusal was a clear indication of guilt. If you haven’t been drinking, it is best to take the test. If you have been drinking, you should know that refusal does not mean you won’t face legal trouble.
Contact a Houston DWI Lawyer at Eddington & Worley Today
If you’re facing DWI or you refused a blood draw and had your license suspended, you need legal help. Reach out to the DWI attorneys in Houston to get sound advice and representation. We will listen to the facts of your case, explain the law and fight to get you the best outcome. Don’t delay in seeking our help.