Every Texas motorist must, of course, adhere to traffic laws and safety regulations each time he or she operates a motor vehicle anywhere in the state. Drivers also have rights, however, including a right to refuse to comply if a police officer asks a particular driver to take a field sobriety test during a traffic stop. Implied consent laws are a separate matter; it’s important to understand the difference, as well the implications of refusing a chemical blood alcohol content level test.
When a Texas driver signs a license to drive, implied consent kicks in
Becoming a licensed driver in Texas means that the driver in question implicitly agrees to take a Breathalyzer test or other chemical test if asked to do so after being arrested with probable cause on suspicion of drunk driving. A chemical blood alcohol content test is different from a preliminary alcohol screening breath test, which typically takes place roadside, during a traffic stop. Just as there are no legal or administrative penalties for refusing to take a field sobriety test, there are no repercussions for refusing a roadside breath test.
On the other hand, a request to take a chemical test after an arrest has taken place falls under implied consent laws. A person who refuses to comply automatically incurs certain administrative penalties, such as license suspension. How long a suspension is set to last depends on whether it is a first offense, second offense, etc.
Some drivers still choose to refuse a chemical test
Implied consent is just that: implied. A person can still choose to refuse upon request for a chemical test. Whether this is the best criminal defense strategy in a given situation might depend on numerous factors. It is always best to consult with an experienced criminal law attorney to seek recommendations on a best course of action in response to a DUI arrest.