Drivers who are stopped on Texas highways can refuse to take a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, but the refusal comes with a substantial penalty. And, this is especially true for licensed commercial drivers and individuals under age 21. Refusing testing of any sort in Texas is a serious matter to the court, and there are even circumstances where suspects can be forced into submitting to a breathalyzer or chemical testing when a prior conviction record contains aggravated circumstance convictions.
When testing can be mandated by law enforcement
It can be an advantage for some drivers to refuse a sobriety test of any type, and many Texas criminal defense lawyers will advise this for some Texans or individuals traveling through the state. The automatic 180-day driving privilege suspension is less than the penalty for a DUI conviction in many instances. However, some multiple offenders who attempt this in Texas can actually be forced to comply. This rule does not apply to first-time offenders, and it is not absolute for multiple offenders unless their prior driving history includes aggravated circumstances convictions.
How the law applies to underage drivers
The state of Texas has set the legal drinking age at 21, and any driver under that age is in violation of the DUI law with any BAC level in their blood. If results of an official breathalyzer test show any BAC level, the suspect can then be charged under the underage statute as well as the standard DUI law. However, punishment is handled differently for underage drivers than for adults. While there may be a case dismissal due to a lack of evidence through a solid criminal defense, those who refuse can still be fined up to $500 and ordered to perform community service and ADE training.
Whether or not to submit to alcohol testing when being stopped in Texas is indeed a personal decision, and those who are issued a license have agreed to the implied consent state requirement when accepting them. It is always best for anyone who chooses to drink and drive to call an attorney immediately after exercising their right of refusal.