When can you refuse a sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2023 | DWI Defense

Every state considers drunk driving illegal, but each considers its laws differently. In Texas, if police suspect a driver is drunk, then they’ll perform a traffic stop. Police must have reasonable suspicion to do so, such as seeing a car driving on the center lane, catching a driver speeding through a red light or finding someone starting their car just after leaving a bar.

While stopping a driver who ran a stop sign is enough for a traffic stop, it may not be enough for the driver to be charged with a DWI. As such, the police may need to perform a sobriety test on the driver. There are two kinds of sobriety tests:

  1. Standardized field sobriety tests (SFST): These include a physical evaluation that includes a horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN), walk-and-turn test (WAT) or one-legged stand test (OLS)
  2. Chemical tests: A chemical test that evaluates a person’s blood alcohol content levels using their breath – a BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered a traffic violation, and could be done with breath, blood or urine

A sobriety test helps officers collect enough evidence to prove that a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving. Drivers, however, may want to understand their legal rights during a traffic stop, such as their right to refuse a sobriety test. Here’s what you should know:

Implied consent laws

Every driver, once they receive their license, agrees to implied consent laws. These laws state that drivers are obligated to take a sobriety test if the police have reasonable suspicion of a driver being drunk behind the wheel. Refusing to take a sobriety test can result in a license suspension and a DWI convention. 

It should be understood that implied consent laws only apply to chemical testing. That means a breath test or blood and urine tests. An SFST doesn’t apply under implied consent laws. Drivers who are forced to do an SFST may have had their legal rights violated. 

When combatting a DWI charge, you should understand how to create a strong legal defense. Experienced legal guidance is wise.

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