Like all motorists in Texas and beyond, you're obligated to adhere to all traffic regulations and state laws that impact your privilege of operating a motor vehicle. For instance, if you drive around without a license plate on your car, it's like an invitation to police officers to pull you over. That's because you understand from the get go that your vehicle must have visible tag numbers showing while you drive.
As a licensed driver, you aren't allowed to drive if you're intoxicated. Problems can arise, however, concerning the legal definition of the word. In most states, if your blood alcohol content level is .08 or higher, the law prohibits you from getting behind the wheel to drive. If a police officer pulls you over because of a DWI suspicion, he or she may ask you to take a test from a mobile device. It's important to understand the difference between this test and a chemical Breathalyzer test.
Know your rights regarding breath tests
Some people mistakenly believe that the mobile device police officers often use during traffic stops to test breath for alcohol is a Breathalyzer. Most often, you would take a Breathalyzer test after arrest, not before. The roadside test is an entirely different test, and the outcome of your situation may depend on you understanding the difference and knowing how to quickly access support when you need it. The following information may be useful if a traffic officer asks you to take a sobriety test:
- The roadside test is typically part of several types of field sobriety tests police use to determine if they have probable cause to make a DWI arrest.
- The field sobriety check that involves a breath test is known as a preliminary alcohol screening test. The PAS uses a mobile device to test your breath for the presence of alcohol.
- A Breathalyzer test, on the other hand, is a chemical test. The PAS is merely a quick check to detect alcohol on your breath and estimate BAC, whereas a chemical Breathalyzer produces more accurate results regarding the amount of alcohol in your system when you take the test.
- You are not legally obligated to submit to a roadside PAS. If you refuse a Breathalyzer, however, you may incur automatic administrative penalties that often include driver's license suspension.
Another key point regarding the differences between these two tests is that results from a PAS are not admissible as evidence in court. Prosecutors may, however, use Breathalyzer evidence against you when trying you for DWI in Texas. If you do refuse to take a PAS, prosecutors may also try to use the fact that you refused to convince a jury that you were trying to evade arrest.
To avoid confusion about state laws and to protect their rights, many Texas motorists request legal representation as soon as patrol officers ask them to step out of their vehicles to take a PAS or other field sobriety tests.