In 2014, the Texas Court of Appeals determined that the state's DWI implied consent law was unconstitutional. Under the law, all drivers were automatically required to submit to chemical testing when requested by a police officer. In other words, getting behind the wheel triggered consent for testing if you were pulled over for DWI. There was no right to refuse testing. Police had the right to test your breath or blood without a warrant.
The Court of Appeals found that the implied consent law was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. In turn, drivers in Texas are no longer required to comply with an officer's request to provide a sample of their breath or blood. The fact that a driver refuses chemical testing can't be used as evidence against them in a criminal DWI case. Police can, however, still make an arrest based on other evidence or request a search warrant to obtain a sample of a driver's blood.
No Refusal Weekends
Just because implied consent laws were struck down by the courts doesn't mean that police can't obtain a sample of your blood without your permission. There are certain times throughout the year that are classified as “no refusal” weekends. These include days including and surrounding Memorial Day, The Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. However, the name is a bit misleading.
You still retain the right to refuse to provide a sample of your breath or blood during no refusal weekends. However, it is easier for police to obtain a sample of your blood without your consent. Why? If you assert your right to refuse testing, police can request a search warrant for a sample of your blood. These warrant requests are accelerated during no refusal weekends.
In order to make it easier for police to get blood sample evidence local law enforcement agencies may have a magistrate on call to review warrant requests, allocate more policing efforts to DWI enforcement, and ensure the availability of medical professionals for blood draws.
Securing a warrant for a blood draw quickly helps to ensure that blood test results will be as accurate as possible. The more time that lapses between the stop and testing, the less reliable the results.
What Happens If I Refuse & Am Arrested for DWI?
Driving while intoxicated doesn't just carry criminal consequences. DWI is also be punished with administrative sanctions. If you refuse chemical testing and are arrested anyway, your license will be subject to automatic suspension. Officers will seize the license and you'll only have 15 days to request a special administrative hearing. The hearing is your opportunity to contest the situation and fight to keep your license. It's important to know that the outcome of your administrative hearing won't necessarily affect the outcome of your criminal case.
If you have been arrested on suspicion of DWI in Houston you need to speak with an attorney immediately. The state can still build a strong case against you even if you refused chemical testing. At the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C., our Houston DWI defense lawyers know how to craft a strong defense and attack the validity of any harmful evidence that may be presented. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation and learn more