At police checks, motorists take breathalyzer tests if the traffic officers notice signs of impairment or smell alcohol after stopping you. The breath test helps law enforcers determine whether you are driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Other tests that the cops could use to determine blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) include blood or chemical tests. If the level of alcohol in your blood is higher than what Texas law allows, you get arrested for a DWI offense.
In Fort Worth, you violate Texas Penal Code 49.04 if found driving with a BAC of 0.08 or above. There are also instances where your BAC reads below the legal limit, but you show signs of physical and mental impairment. Here, the police take you through a field sobriety test (FST) to determine impairment.
According to Texas Transportation Code section 724.011, the moment you apply for a driving license, you give consent to an alcohol test. The consent involves field sobriety, chemical, and breath tests.
There are those motorists who violate the law and refuse to offer breath samples. If arrested, the motorists undergo mandatory breath tests per DWI implied consent law.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that over 20% of drivers charged with DWI in the US refuse to have their BAC tested.
Note that refusing to take a breathalyzer test or any other test that a traffic officer requests, you risk various penalties like fines, jail time, or suspension of your driver’s license.
If a law enforcer arrests you or your loved one for DWI even after refusing to take an alcohol test, contact a Fort Worth DWI defense lawyer immediately.
Your arrest is not a sign of guilt, and we help motorists charged with DWI build credible defenses. Secure your freedom today!
What Is Implied Consent Law in Texas?
The state of Texas, to curb driving while intoxicated cases, implemented implied consent law. The consent law suggests that you agree to take an alcohol test when a traffic officer lawfully stops you, and they suspect you are intoxicated. You consent the law the moment you apply for a driver's license in Texas. To make the law feasible, the state government imposes severe punishment to motorists who refuse any type of alcohol tests.
The DWI implied consent rule includes operators of trucks, small vehicles, motorcycles, and even powerboats.
Texas law does not need you to allow a cop to draw blood from you to do a blood test. However, at times, the law enforcers seek court permission to mount ‘no refusal’ police checkpoints. Here, the police have the right to force you to take breath, blood, or chemical tests to determine your blood-alcohol level.
In Texas, the police can obtain, with the help of the NHTSA, electronic warrants via mobile gadgets from the court. See, unlike paper warrants, through electronic permits, the police can take blood tests before the motorist gets sober.
Learn that the police have the jurisdiction, granted through “no-refusal” enforcement, to force you to take a test. And, the implied consent law applies after your DWI arrest. So, you want to contact a DWI attorney lawyer if you refuse to take an alcohol test in Fort Worth.
Tests Covered Under Implied Consent DWI Rule
Under Texas law, there exist two types of alcohol tests covered under DWI implied consent rule. The outcomes of these tests could land you in problems with the law, especially if they show you drove while intoxicated. Refusal of motorists to take any of these tests violate the implied consent law.
Currently, the law enforcers in Texas can obtain electronic warrants within two hours after suspecting you are driving while intoxicated. If granted permission, the police compel you to take a breathalyzer test.
The breath test occurs when the police place a breathalyzer in your mouth and ask you to blow and test the results of your BAC shows almost instantly. If your BAC is higher than what the law allows, you are guilty of DWI and vice versa.
Chemical/ Blood Test
Anyone driving on the roads in Fort Worth gives their implied consent to have their BAC tested. The law enforcer could ask you to take urine, breath, or even chemical blood tests if they suspect any form of intoxication. You could get intoxicated by alcohol, illicit drugs, and other illegal substances. Cops must find a probable cause before performing a chemical test. Chemical tests involve measuring the BAC levels in urine samples or blood of intoxicated drivers. If the chemical test results show 0.08 BAC or above, you are considered impaired.
Field Sobriety Tests
Per implied consent law, you are required to undergo a physical examination to confirm impairment. Like other alcohol tests, the police must find a probable cause before performing the test on a DWI suspect.
FTSs involve physical tests where a law enforcer requests a DWI suspect to undergo to evaluate if they are impaired. The NHTSA stipulated precise standardized tests, which the police can use.
Pre-Arrest PAS Breath Test
Texas law doesn’t compel a DWI suspect to take blood tests before an arrest is made. For police to establish probable cause, they request you (the motorist) to take a preliminary or pre-arrest breath test (PAS). You alight from your vehicle and breath through the breathalyzer, which the police hold against your mouth. The roadside breath test also acts as an FST. With a field sobriety test, the police ask you to walk in a straight while others ask you to raise a finger to your nose. If you fail the FST, even if your BAC is lower than 0.08, the enforcer arrests you for DWI.
Texas law does not impose penalties for refusing an FST or PAS if:
- You are above the age of 21 years
- You are not serving probation for another DWI conviction
Police forward the PAS test results to the prosecution to use the results as evidence for your DWI case. Have a defense attorney helps you maneuver through the rigorous court processes in Texas.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
There are three standard sobriety tests in Texas that police can choose if they suspect you for driving while intoxicated. Also, if you don't want to perform the tests, you violate the implied consent law and need to call your DWI defense lawyer for help.
One Leg Stand
With this FTS, the law enforcer asks you to step out of your car and stand on one leg. The police ask you to raise one foot approx. Six inches from the ground, and maintain the position for a minute or two.
The test primarily depends on the belief that if you cannot maintain balance on one foot, you are guilty of driving while intoxicated.
Walk and Turn
Walk and turn test occurs when the traffic officer tells you to walk nine steps forward, the turn, and walk back in a straight line. While walking in a straight line, you must maintain a heel to toe pattern.
All that is needed is to show the ability to follow directions, count, and keep your balance. Failure to maintain the stability you need to call a DWI attorney because you are going to jail.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Forget the complicated name; this test is among the most accurate alcohol tests. Horizontal gaze nystagmus is a scientific method and primarily tests for alcohol intoxication.
Here, the law enforcer, while focusing on your eyes, waves an item across your face and asks you to follow the moving object horizontally. The police are which for involuntary twitching of your eyes to arrest you.
Usually, the police use a flashlight or pen for this test.
Refusal of The Field Sobriety Test
No officer can force you, without a warrant, to take an FTS in Fort Worth. But the situation could get complicated if they arrest you and use your refusal as a probable cause. Also, the judge could term your denial as proof of guilt. If you find yourself in this situation, speak to a DWI defense attorney.
What Are the Consequences for Refusing to Take A Breath Test Post-Arrest?
Texas law requires traffic officers to obtain a warrant before forcing you to take a breath or blood test. However, you still get arrested for violating the implied consent law, and the prosecution can use your refusal offense as proof of intoxication.
After refusal to have your BAC tested, the law enforcers offer you’re a document to sign as a consent that you understand the repercussions of your conduct. The only instance the police can compel you to take a BAC test is where you cause a vehicle accident, and someone else sustained severe injuries or died.
Texas Penal Code section 724.035, under the Transportation Code state that any driver who refuses to submit a BAC test:
- They have their driver’s license revoked for 180 days
- They cannot obtain a driver’s license until 180 days elapse if arrested in Fort Worth without one
- They are denied a driver's license for two years if there are prior records showing drug or alcohol intoxication and driving violation in the last ten years
- Admits that their refusal to take a breath or blood test serves as evidence, despite the presence of implied consent, they were so intoxicated that they couldn't make or pass the test. The refusal also could suggest that you hid evidence of your intoxication
What Happens After Failing the Alcohol Concentration Test?
The implied consent law allows the police to obtain a warrant to have you take compulsory FTS or blood tests. But you could also choose to cooperate and undertake the alcohol test. If you fail the test, there are possible penalties that the court imposes.
You could have your driver’s license revoked for 90 days if it is a first-time offense.
The judge court could also choose to withdraw your driver’s license for 90 days if you have a prior DWI conviction within the last ten years since your arrest
There is a one-year suspension of your driver’s license if your driving records show that you have had alcohol enforcement within the last ten years
Texas law, however, allows you to apply for an occupational driver’s license (ODL) if your driver’s license gets revoked under certain circumstances like:
- Your driving record show no DWI offense within the last five years since your current arrest. Here, the court grants you an ODL immediately
- You have had a drug-related conviction in the previous five years since your current arrest. To obtain the ODL, you must wait until the 90-day suspension penalty elapse
- You have had a DWI conviction in the past five years since your current arrest. Here, you must wait for 180 days to obtain an ODL
- You have had a second or subsequent DWI case in the last five years from the date of your arrest. You must wait for a year after your driver’s license suspension before the court allows you to obtain an ODL
If you violate the implied consent law in Fort Worth, hope is not lost. With the help of an experienced DWI attorney, you could build a credible defense to have your license reinstated, case dismissed, or your charges lowered.
Does the Implied Consent Law Apply to Refusal of Chemical Tests After A Lawful DWI Arrest?
In 2016, the US government, through the Supreme Court, ruled that it is unlawful for any state to criminalize refusal of chemical tests. The police should obtain a lawful warrant to proceed with performing the tests.
The Birchfield V. North Dakota decision also prohibits making the chemical test refusal a separate crime in Texas and across the USA. All that is needed is a warrant to activate the implied consent law. If the court grants an authorization, then the police could take blood sampled from a DWI forcefully, but when there is reasonable suspicion.
Under What Conditions Can the Police Take a Blood Test from a Suspect?
Like other states, driving in Texas is a privilege. There are many stringent measures the state takes to ensure motorists’ safety on the roads. Driving while intoxicated, for many years, has caused fatalities, wrongful deaths, injuries, and damages to many people. The Texas state prohibits drunk driving and makes it a serious crime.
To determine a driver is drunk, a traffic officer is required to perform an alcohol test. The state stipulates certain conditions needed before an officer can test your blood for alcohol.
A Lawful Warrant
In Texas, even if there exists an implied consent law, the police cannot force you to undergo a blood test if they suspect that you are drunk.
They need to first request a warrant from the court to proceed with a forceful testing procedure. Note that the police, if you refuse to cooperate and take a breath test, can get a quick electronic warrant via a cell phone within no time. Here, you need to engage your DWI defense attorney to advise on the next step you should take.
Suspicion of a Texas Felony DWI
Texas law allows the cops to forcibly draw your blood for a blood-alcohol test if they suspect a felony DWI. The police can then proceed to perform the text if:
- You have caused a road accident
- Someone had died following a car accident where you also got involved
- They cannot obtain a warrant in good time
Note that a DWI offense translates into a felony if:
- Someone else gets injured
- You have subsequent DWI conviction in the last ten years
Suspicion of a DWI
Like Felony DWI, the police can ask you to submit an alcohol blood test when they suspect that your results could show the presence of drugs.
The suspicion of drunk driving could stem from:
- Physical evidence, for instance, used beer cans in the car
- Physical signs of your intoxication
- Your statements
Legal Defenses to Implied Consent in Texas
Fighting a Texas DWI refusal tax is a complicated process. After violating the implied consent law, you need to call your defense lawyer. Your attorney has a better understanding of the law and can figure out possible defenses against your charges.
Usually, when you refuse to have your blood tested for alcohol or other drugs, you get charged with driving while intoxicated in violation of implied consent law. There is an additional allegation that you intentionally refused a urine or breath test as required by law. With the help of a DWI defense lawyer, you have various legal defenses to consider.
Lack of Proper Legal Cause to Stop or Arrest You
It is unlawful for a police officer to stop and search you without probable cause according to the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.
The traffic officer must have a lawful and articulable reason for stopping your car or for taking blood samples from you. The arresting officer must have genuine reasons to arrest, detain, and ask for blood samples.
If your arrest lacked probable cause, your attorney could use this as a defense to have your drug-test results nullified, and the case dismissed.
Not Driving While Intoxicated
An arresting officer could arrest you for violating the implied consent law, but you were not intoxicated at the time of the arrest. If charged with DWI, the odds are that the court dismisses your case because you were not driving while intoxicated.
Also, refusal to undergo a chemical test is not a criminal offense if results show you did not drive while intoxicated.
Failure to Offer Suitable Admonition
When making an arrest, the law requires an officer to notify the DWI suspect about the repercussions of refusing to take a chemical test. These repercussions entail the possible penalties after conviction and the negative outcome for driving privileges.
Texas law states that the court should dismiss any DWI implied consent case if the arresting officer failed to provide warning during the time of the arrest.
Ambiguity, when providing admonition, could also favor your case and have it dismissed. For instance, if the arresting officer, when warning you, says that you “may” lose your driving privileges in Fort Worth instead of you “will” have your driver’s license revoked, the court considers this as an ambiguous admonition. With a sharp defense attorney, be sure this case could get dismissed.
Texas law protects persons whose certain medical conditions cannot allow them to have their blood samples taken. If these people get arrested, the court cannot convict them for the refusal of alcohol testing.
But the law does not protect DWI suspects who are subject to self-induced conditions like voluntary intoxication. You need to hire a knowledgeable DWI defense lawyer to represent you if arrested in Fort Worth.
Extra Legal Defenses
There exist several other legal defenses you and your DWI lawyer could use to contest the permissibility of chemical tests demanded according to the Texas implied consent rule. The arguments could also help contest charges of your refusal to take a chemical test. These defenses include:
- Invalid consent
- Police threats and improper promises
- Impractical urine or breath tests
- Law violation by the arresting officers to justify stopping you
- No refusal to take a drug test
- Incorrect statement of the law
- Lack of probable cause to believe that your drunk driving cause death of someone else
- Lack of reasonable suspicion by the police to stop you
- Your arrest was unlawful
Find a Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer Near Me
According to Texas law, a DWI conviction attracts severe consequences to both your driving privileges, professional life, financial status, and personal life.
Hire a Fort Worth DWI defense lawyer the next time the police take you in for refusal of offering blood samples.
We understand the court system in Fort Worth and the larger Texas and all the statutes regarding the DWI implied consent law.
You still have hopes to regain your freedom even if you face a conviction for drunk driving. We will build a robust defense that challenges even the most complex cases.
Reach our DWI defense lawyers today at 817-470-2128 for a no-obligation consult.