You are out on a Friday night with co-workers. It had been a long week and all you wanted to do was unwind. So, you did. Along with good conversation, some laughs, and appetizers, you drank a few beers. The end of the evening came and you got behind the wheel to go home because you felt fine to drive. On the way home, though, you failed to put the signal light on as you made a right turn.
Given the late hour, it being Friday, and your proximity to a few bars, the police jump on this chance to pull you over. You are indignant when they ask you to blow into a breathalyzer. You aren't intoxicated, and the police – you feel – are picking on you. You have rights, right? So, you wonder if you can legally say no to the preliminary breathalyzer test (PBT).
Well, you do have rights. And yes, you can say no and not provide the police with a breath sample for the PBT. There are, however, consequences if you do. Knowing those consequences will help inform your decision whether or not to provide the breath sample. So, the real question other than "can you?" becomes "should you?"
Can You Legally Refuse a Breathalyzer during a DWI Stop in Plano, TX?
As mentioned above, yes, you can refuse a breathalyzer test but it'll come with consequences. The consequences are primarily two-fold:
The police will get a warrant for a blood draw. The problem with this is simple: blood tests are typically much more accurate than a breath test. That means the reliability of test results is harder to challenge at court than the results from a blood test. In Texas, it first started out as No Refusal Weekends, where, if a suspected DWI offender refused to blow into a test, the police would automatically request a warrant for a blood draw, but the police wouldn't necessarily request a blood draw outside these weekends in large part because it would take too long. Now, requesting a warrant is almost part of the process – the police in Plano will request a warrant without a second thought regardless of the day or time.
- Your Texas driver's license will be suspended for a longer period, starting at 180 days for a first offense – and this is true even if you are not eventually convicted of a DWI offense. If you are eventually convicted, you may face additional suspension of your driving privileges. Texas is strict with regard to its implied consent laws, where the driver allegedly consented to take a breath or blood test to determine BAC upon obtaining a Texas driver's license.
Should You Provide a Breath Sample during a DWI Stop in Plano, TX?
The decision to blow into a breathalyzer during a DWI investigation is your own decision – I can't tell you in this blog and without knowing the exact circumstances what to do and not to do... but I can give you information so you can make an informed decision.
If you blow into the machine, you are basically doing the police's job for them. If you blow and your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is .08% or higher, then you willingly gave them evidence they can use against you.
If you refuse, then you could suffer the consequences mentioned above. It's basically a catch-22.
That said, even if you blow into the breathalyzer or an Intoxylizer (which is a non-portable breath machine located at the police station), the results from these machines are universally known to be faulty machines that render inaccurate results.
Breath machines can be faulty due to mechanical errors, failure to keep them calibrated, or simply the machine's inability to detect alcohol from other substances containing methyl. To the last point, you could be a diabetic or on the keto diet and – even with no alcohol consumption prior to driving – still return a positive result via a breath test. As such, this evidence can be successfully challenged in some cases.
The Key Takeaway
It's important to keep in mind that refusal can lead to additional consequences in DWI events. Given the consequences, if you do provide a breath sample, remember that if the results of the breath test indicate illegal intoxication, with an experienced and skilled DWI defense attorney, you may still be able to challenge that evidence successfully in court.