In the course of a typical DWI stop in Texas, police officers ask the driver to take a Breathalyzer test. The results are supposed to measure the blood alcohol concentration and ascertain whether it exceeds the legal limit.
Many drivers harbor misconceptions about Breathalyzer testing, which could end up seriously damaging their defense in the event of DUI charges. For this reason, no matter what you think you know, always speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after a DWI arrest.
Do you have to take the test?
Technically, the law does not require you to submit to a Breathalyzer test. This merely means refusing does not constitute a separate criminal offense. However, a refusal can still have serious consequences. Notably, you may receive a license suspension for 180 days if this is a first offense and for two years if this is a repeat offense. However, you may be able to challenge the suspension via a hearing, which you must ask for within 15 days of having signed the refusal statement.
Refusal to take a chemical test may also count as evidence against you in your DWI case. Nevertheless, in some cases, a lawyer may advise you to refuse if the test results are likely to harm your defense.
However, during a DWI stop, most people do not have access to an attorney's advice on the spot. Many people do end up agreeing to take the test, whether because they feel confident they do not have a problematic BAC or simply because they do not feel comfortable arguing with a police officer.
Does a bad BAC result mean your case is over?
An incriminating result on the Breathalyzer does not mean an open-and-shut case for the prosecution. A DWI conviction can affect your life in a variety of serious ways, so giving up the fight is typically not in your best interest. While Breathalyzer results may seem impressively scientific and incontrovertible, defense attorneys know about all the various problems that can compromise them and get courts to throw them out, such as improper maintenance or operating errors.