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!