Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) August 9, 2016 – Although the Supreme Court recently made significant changes to what police are permitted to do if they pull over a suspected drunk driver, those changes may not yet affect Texas DWI law. However, they do create the potential for more changes in the future.
The most important part of the recent Supreme Court ruling states that a law may be enacted to allow law enforcement to conduct a breathalyzer test even if they do not have a warrant. Put another way, the Supreme Court would not strike down a law making it a crime for an individual to refuse to take the test. State law currently says individuals do not have to provide a breath sample to the police.
“Although you have the option to not take the breathalyzer test when asked, what usually happens if you do not comply is the police ask for a blood specimen. Most refuse that test as well,” stated Bobby Lee, an Austin DWI plaintiff’s attorney. “If you refuse to give blood, chances are you land in jail waiting for the police to get a search warrant. Getting a warrant in the bigger cities, like Austin, is fairly easy. In a rural area, not so much.”
In rural areas, if the driver refuses to take a breathalyzer test the police have trouble getting authorized to perform the blood test because it is difficult to find a judge to issue a warrant. The end result is police usually drop the charges, hardly a good outcome when police are trying to get drunken drivers off of the roads.
“Even though the legal precedent now exists that allows the police to force suspected drunken drivers to take a breathalyzer test, that case law does not change current legislative law in Texas,” explained Bobby Lee, an Austin DWI plaintiff’s attorney. “It is likely things will remain the same until all levels of state law enforcement and lawmakers examine the ramifications of the decision.”
Will Texas make it a crime to refuse a breath test? That may happen in the future. Is that a good idea to combat drunk drivers? It may be, but it is inevitably going to raise a whole host of other questions relating to infringing on human rights, proper punishment and enforcement issues.
Lee, Gober & Reyna
11940 Jollyville Road #220-S
Austin, Texas 78759