Many Texas residents will be celebrating Independence Day this weekend with adult beverages, and if you are one of them, you need to know your rights if you happen to be pulled over and suspected of drunk driving.
Refusing a breathalyzer or blood test in Texas
Generally speaking, you can refuse to take a breathalyzer or blood test if you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in Texas and the police officer does not have a search warrant. Most criminal defense lawyers will advise to always refuse testing unless you are certain that you are under the legal limit to drive (.08).
However, this is a complicated issue, especially on holiday weekends like the Fourth of July (see below).
The recent Supreme Court ruling on test refusal
You may have heard about the recent Supreme Court ruling that was issued last week on whether drivers have the right to refuse breath and blood testing, and you may be wondering if it affects the law in Texas.
The Court ruled that states can criminalize breath-test refusal, even without a warrant, but they cannot criminalize blood-test refusal. The justices reasoned that blood testing deserves more protection under the Fourth Amendment because it is more invasive than breath testing, which one of the justices compared to drinking out of a straw.
Texas currently does not criminalize breath or blood test refusal, so the ruling does not have an immediate impact on state law. However, it does give Texas lawmakers the green light to create a new law that allows police to arrest suspected drunk drivers who refuse breath testing even without a warrant.
How the rules change on holiday weekends
The reason it is smart to refuse breath and blood testing is because doing so requires police to obtain a warrant, which takes time. Law enforcement knows this, which is why they have created “no refusal weekends.”
During no refusal weekends, which include most holiday weekends such as the Fourth of July, the police team up with judges and prosecutors to have warrants available at the ready. Therefore, don’t expect to get out of a DWI this weekend by refusing testing.
If you do happen to be charged on a no refusal weekend or any time, for that matter, make sure to speak with an experienced attorney right away in order to best protect your driving privileges and your future.