In many states, if a driver is suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI),
or otherwise “under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” there
are consequences for refusing a breath test.
In Plano and Dallas and the rest of Texas, if a DWI suspect refuses a breath
test, the state will punish a refusal with a driver’s license suspension.
The process of suspended a license after a
breath test refusal is called an
administrative license revocation (ALR). Some people believe that this “automatic suspension”
will deter people from refusing a breath test, while others view a refusal
as an admission of guilt.
Let’s say the state believes it has a plausible case against a
DWI suspect who refused a breath test. The state can show the court how the
defendant refused to take a breath test, and when the prosecutor does
this, it shifts the burden onto the defense, making it appear as if the
defendant is guilty until the defense is able to prove otherwise.
However, we must remember that the jury cannot hold a “refusal”
as clear and convincing evidence that a defendant was driving while intoxicated
because that would be pure speculation; it’s not based on hard evidence.
Why the State’s Case is Limited
When a DWI suspect refuses to provide a breath sample, it limits the state’s
case against him or her. Why? Because the state does NOT have evidence
proving that the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was
0.08% or above.
Sure, the state can and will claim that the defendant “appeared under
the influence,” but this won’t be the easiest argument for
the prosecution. Since it’s naturally more complex, it will often
lead to an inclination towards a plea agreement because the state’s
case is shaky at best.
When it comes to breath test refusals, many drivers would rather lose their
driver’s license than risk a DWI conviction. However, drivers should
know that if they refuse a breath test, law enforcement can get a warrant
to collect a blood sample – that’s something to keep in mind.
Need a Plano criminal defense lawyer to fight your DWI charges?
Contact our office to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced attorney!