What an officer should say before requesting a breath test

According to Texas law, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test from a police officer after being pulled over on suspicion of DWI, consequences may result. If you do not provide a breath sample when requested, your driving license faces automatic suspension for 180 days. However, before you can be formally asked to take a breath test, a police officer must give you certain information that includes the consequences of not taking the test. 

Section 724.015 of the state’s implied consent law explains the information that an officer must provide you before requesting that you provide a breath sample. You must be informed that a refusal to take the test could be used against you if you are prosecuted. The officer should let you know that your license will be suspended regardless if you are charged with a crime after your arrest. Even if you refuse to take the test, the officer may seek a warrant to have a breath sample taken anyway. 

The officer is also mandated to let you know of the consequences of registering a high alcohol level if you do decide to provide a breath sample. Even if no criminal prosecution results from the arrest, drivers still face automatic suspension of their license if they register a high enough alcohol level. The length of time varies by age. A driver who is 21 years of age or older will have their license suspended for no less than 90 days while someone younger than 21 will face a suspension of no less than 60 days. 

Even if you refuse the breath test and have your license suspended, you should be aware that you have the opportunity to fight the suspension in court. According to state law, the officer should also let you know of your right to a hearing on your license suspension. In the event you are denied a driving license as a result of being pulled over for DWI, you can request a hearing on your denial as well. 

Since Texas law requires officers to give this information to a person before requesting a breath test, it can seriously damage a case against you if an officer does not properly inform you about your rights and possible consequences for refusing to provide a breath sample. As breath tests themselves are not infallible, there are a number of ways to contest breath test evidence resulting from a DWI.