Should I Take a Breath Test After a DWI Stop in San Angelo?

June 5, 2024 | By Law Offices of David M. White
Should I Take a Breath Test After a DWI Stop in San Angelo?

A common question people in San Angelo have about DWI stops is “Should I take a breath test after a DWI stop in San Angelo?

Before making any decisions, you need to understand your rights and the potential consequences of refusing a breath test in San Angelo, Texas. 

While you may choose to refuse in an attempt to avoid providing incriminating evidence against yourself, doing so can make your situation worse in many cases.

For advice and answers to the specific questions you have about your DWI case, contact an experienced San Angelo DWI defense attorney right away.

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Like all states, Texas has implied consent laws. This means that by driving on Texas roads, you have implicitly consented to taking a blood or breath test if lawfully arrested for suspected drunk driving.

Should I Take a Breath Test After a DWI Stop in San Angelo

While you can refuse testing, doing so violates implied consent and leads to automatic penalties, even if the court never convicts you of DWI.

Under Texas's implied consent law, a breath test refusal will result in an automatic driver's license suspension of 180 days for a first offense. If you have a prior DWI conviction or breath test refusal on your record, your license will be suspended for two years.

You also must pay a $125 license reinstatement fee once the suspension period ends. These administrative penalties are in addition to any criminal consequences if you are ultimately convicted of DWI.

Refusing BAC Testing Prior to Arrest 

Texas's implied consent law only applies to chemical tests given after a lawful DWI arrest. If an officer asks you to take a portable breath test on the side of the road prior to placing you under arrest, you have the right to refuse this preliminary test without any automatic penalties. 

However, even if the roadside breath test shows your blood alcohol content (BAC) is under the legal limit of .08%, the officer can still arrest you for DWI based on other evidence of intoxication, such as:

  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Erratic driving
  • Admitting to drinking
  • Poor performance on field sobriety tests

The roadside breath test is just one piece of evidence the officer will consider in determining probable cause for a DWI arrest.

No-Refusal Checkpoints

DWI Stop

Some Texas counties, including Tom Green County, home to San Angelo, conduct no-refusal DWI checkpoints on certain holiday weekends or other high-enforcement periods. At these checkpoints, a judge remains on call to quickly issue a warrant for a blood draw if a driver refuses breath testing. 

If you refuse a breath test at a no-refusal checkpoint, expect that the officer will obtain a warrant and take you to a local hospital for a mandatory blood draw.

For this reason, if you encounter a no-refusal checkpoint, you may prefer a breath test to avoid the more invasive blood draw that will likely come if you refuse.

Consequences of Refusing a Chemical Test

In addition to driver's license suspension and reinstatement fees, refusing a chemical test after a DWI arrest also makes it harder to defend yourself in court if your case goes to trial.

The prosecution will likely argue that you refused testing because you knew you were intoxicated and didn't want to provide proof of that fact. 

Many Texas courts, including those in the San Angelo area, allow the prosecution to tell the jury about your breath test refusal and let them consider it as evidence of your guilt.

While your San Angelo criminal defense lawyer can challenge this inference and present other reasons for refusing, such as anxiety over the test or fear of needles for a blood draw, it's an uphill battle.

If you are found guilty of DWI after refusing a chemical test, the judge may also impose a harsher sentence than if you had consented to testing, especially for a repeat offense. 

The police can take a breath or blood sample without your consent if:

  • You are unconscious and unable to refuse testing
  • You are arrested for DWI with a child passenger under age 15 in the vehicle  
  • You have at least two prior DWI convictions
  • You are arrested for intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter for a crash involving serious bodily injury or death

In the above scenarios, the police don't need a warrant to forcibly take a blood sample for BAC testing, even if you refuse. The only way to avoid chemical testing in these situations is if taking the sample would jeopardize your health.

Defenses for DWI Test Refusals

If you refused BAC testing and are now facing DWI charges, all hope is not lost. An experienced San Angelo DWI defense attorney may exclude the test refusal from evidence or build a strong defense for why you declined testing.

Some potential defenses include:

  • The traffic stop or arrest was unlawful so the test refusal cannot be used against you 
  • The officer failed to properly explain the consequences of refusing
  • You have a medical condition that prevented you from giving an adequate breath or blood sample
  • The officer misinterpreted your statements or actions as a refusal when you were actually trying to comply

You Have a Right to a Hearing

Drunk Driving

If you refuse a chemical test, you have the right to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing to challenge the automatic suspension of your driver's license.

The ALR hearing happens separately from your criminal court case and focuses solely on whether the officer had reasonable grounds to believe you drove while intoxicated and whether they properly requested testing under the implied consent law.

You only have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request an ALR hearing, so it's important to act fast. If you win the ALR hearing, your 

license suspension will be lifted. However, if you lose the hearing or fail to request one in time, your suspension will go into effect 40 days after your arrest. 

How an Attorney Can Help You

An experienced DWI defense attorney can review the unique facts of your case and advise you of your options. 

Your attorney can represent you at your ALR hearing, negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or alternative sentencing, and build the strongest possible defense for trial if needed. Having a skilled advocate in your corner can make all the difference in minimizing the fallout of a DWI arrest.

Get Help from an Experienced DWI Defense Attorney in San Angelo Today

If you or a loved one faces DWI charges in San Angelo after refusing a breath or blood test, don't face this stressful, overwhelming situation alone. The Law Offices of David M. White can protect your rights and driving privileges. 

We have decades of combined experience defending clients against blood test refusals and other DWI charges with a high rate of success. Take the first step toward putting this ordeal behind you by contacting The Law Offices of David M. White for a free and confidential consultation.

Schedule a free consultation