When a driver is stopped by police on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, they have certain rights relating to on-site sobriety testing. According to a defense lawyer who helps clients faced with field sobriety testing results, declining a mandatory field sobriety test based on implied consent could have unexpected consequences if you are unaware of what could happen. No person should ever drive while intoxicated; however, it is important to know how the law is applied to the refusal of on-site sobriety testing and how it can affect DWI charges.
What Is Implied Consent?
In Texas, anyone with a driver’s license has already provided implied consent to field sobriety testing if the law enforcement official feels there is probable cause of DWI to make an arrest. If you refuses testing, the police officer can still arrest you under an appearance of DWI/DUI and proceed based on field observations.
Drivers License Hearing
If you refuse to be tested at the scene of a DWI/DUI stop, it can be looked upon as implication of guilt. The officer must warn you that refusal to take the required sobriety tests can be used as evidence in court when facing DWI/DUI charges. If field sobriety tests are refused, your driver’s license is confiscated and replaced with a temporary one prior to automatic driver’s license suspension based on refusal to be tested. The time frame for requesting this hearing is very small – only 15 days from the date of the suspension notice. Seeking the help of a DWI defense lawyer to handle your case would be a good choice at this time.
At the hearing, available evidence including the arresting offer’s testimony is presented and a decision is either negative or positive regarding license suspension. If you do not request a hearing, your license is suspended on the 40th day after arrest and will not be considered for reinstatement for a length of time based on prior convictions, etc.
Contesting Implied Consent
While drivers give implied consent to field sobriety testing when they obtain a license, it does not eliminate the right to decline tests – both in the field or at the police station. While refusal does not often help a driver’s case and can be used to support conviction, it also does not mean that there is implied acceptance of any penalties or license suspension.
Opinions certainly differ about whether it is better to refuse field sobriety tests or not. Both choices can have varying consequences. Yes, refusal can be admissible evidence by the prosecution to support a finding of DWI; however, the results of failed breath or blood tests could result if greater penalties than the refusal of testing. Since the choice to submit or refuse comes at a difficult time and intense conditions, it is hard choice to make correctly. The only choice may be to refuse testing and then seek the services of an experienced and knowledgeable DWI defense lawyer to handle your case.
There are some situations where drivers cannot refuse field sobriety testing, including serious or fatal accidents, having a child in the car, or being unconscious at the scene. In these instances, officers can demand that drivers submit to sobriety testing. The best way to avoid any of the above issues is to not drink and drive. If you are arrested on alcohol-related charges, contact an experienced DWI/DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Reynaldo G. Garza, III
680 E. St Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520