Texas, like other states, has a law on its books which is referred to as the “implied consent” law. Under this law, all motorists are deemed to have already consented to providing law enforcement officers a breath, blood or urine sample for the purpose of determining their level of intoxication during a DWI investigation.
This consent to testing only kicks in, so to speak, if the driver is validly arrested, which is an important point given that officers do not always have probable cause when they make DWI arrests. We’ll say more about this point later. In any case, Texas’ implied consent law does acknowledge that motorists under investigation for DWI have the right to refuse a breath, blood or urine sample after being arrested, but there are consequences for doing so.
First of all, refusing to provide a sample may later be used against the individual in court as evidence that he or she was operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. This, of course, would defeat the purpose of the refusal in many situations.
Second, refusing to submit to a breath, blood or urine test results in automatic license suspension, regardless of whether or not the individual is later charged for DWI. The length of the suspension varies according to the case.
Third, officers may be able to obtain a blood sample anyway by applying for a warrant which allows them to do so. These are the so-called forced blood draws we sometimes hear about in the headlines.
In our next post, we’ll continue this discussion on implied consent and forced blood draws, and we will speak about how an attorney can help build a strong defense in DWI cases where these things are at issue.