It’s commonly thought that by refusing a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content (BAC), a defendant may have a better chance of an acquittal because there will be less evidence against him or her. But in fact, most criminal defense attorneys strongly advise their clients not to refuse the test. This is because states have implied consent laws, which drivers violate by refusing a chemical test. Drivers can be prosecuted on a separate charge for refusing the test and they may face automatic penalties.
Texas is one of the many states with this implied consent law. This law states if a police officer asks you to take a chemical test because he has probable cause to believe you are driving under the influence, you consent to taking the test. If you do not want to take the test, the police officer who is arresting you should you let you know both verbally and in writing that refusing carries serious penalties, including a 180-day suspension of your license. But, this 180-day license suspension is only for first time offenders. The penalty increases to a 2-year suspension if this is not your first offense.
The police officer will ask you to sign a waiver saying he has informed you of these consequences, and you still have decided to refuse the test. At this point, your license will be suspended and you will have a temporary driving permit for 41 days. It’s possible you can have your license reinstated if you request a hearing with the DMV and argue that there was no proof you were under the influence. However, this is unlikely, so if you refuse the test, be prepared to have your license suspended for at least 180 days.
In a regular traffic stop, you can refuse to take the test if you are willing to suffer the consequences of doing so. However, in other situations, you do not have the option of refusing. For example, if you are involved in an accident where someone was seriously injured or killed, you will have to take the test regardless of whether you want to or not. You will also have to take the test if you have two or more DUI convictions on your record, or if you have one DUI conviction, but there is a child in the car with you at the time of the arrest.
Contrary to popular belief, you can be found guilty of DUI even if you have not taken the test. The state may even use your refusal as evidence that you were intoxicated at the time of the arrest.
Ultimately, the choice is yours whether you take or refuse the test, but it’s important to understand the consequences of each decision. Regardless of what you decide to do, if you are facing DUI charges in the Dallas or Plano areas, you will need the help fo a criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Grass, criminal defense lawyer, at (972) 954-4441 to arrange for aggressive legal representation.