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After a DWI stop in Texas: Can you refuse a breath or blood test?

Being pulled over by police on suspicion of drunk driving is a scary experience. You may be asked to exit your vehicle and submit to a breath test and a number of field sobriety tests. Many people wonder what they are forced to submit to and what they can refuse to do. Though cooperation with the police is often best, you have the ability to refuse a breath test on the scene, or a blood or urine test if you are taken to the police station.

What are the pros and cons of refusing?

In every DWI situation, pros and cons must be seriously considered. In Texas, there is a law called implied consent. This means that by holding a Texas state-issued driver's license, you are agreeing to consent to any type of chemical or physical testing needed to determine the legality of the alcohol content of your blood. But implied consent does not have any impact on your free will and ability to refuse to submit.

Even though you can technically refuse a breath, blood or urine test, or any of the field sobriety tests, there are consequences for refusing. Depending on whether or not you have previously refused a test, you are facing a driver's license suspension that can range from 180 days to two years. It may be possible to obtain a conditional license that allows you to continue to travel to school or work, though not all individuals charged with a drunk driving-related test refusal will be granted this privilege.

While the potential for criminal penalties makes it seem as though refusing is a negative, it is possible for refusing a test to benefit you. Without any concrete evidence of your blood alcohol content (BAC), it may be more difficult for prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were under the influence at the time you were pulled over and arrested. So your refusal, while creating a difficult situation with a license suspension, may contribute to the dismissal of the DWI charges you are facing.

Every DWI situation is different

There is no one answer for every question that you may have regarding a DWI arrest or breath test refusal. Since every case is different, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who can fully understand your situation and craft the proper drunk driving defense strategy that suits your needs and goals.

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