The question over whether implied consent laws violate due process and how far they can go to restrict rights and privileges continues its path through the courts. The most recent episode of this argument recently ended in the Texas Court of Appeals as a judge shot down an attempt to overturn Texas’s implied consent law.
In that case, the challenger was pulled over on suspicion of DWI and refused to take a breathalyzer test. The officer informed the man of his obligation under Texas law, but he still refused to be tested. When this happens in Texas, a person’s driver’s license will be suspended, pending a review of the arrest and process at an administrative hearing.
At an administrative hearing over the denial of taking a breathalyzer, the state has the burden of proving several things before a license can be taken. This is similar to the process of a DWI case over criminal charges, but is different because it is a civil and not criminal case.
First, the police must prove to the judge that the stop was lawful, meaning that the police were justified in pulling the suspect over and initiating an investigation. The police should have observed the driver driving erratically, missing a turn signal, or doing something against the law to justify them making a stop.
Next, the police must show that there was probable cause to demand the suspect take a breathalyzer test. The police can show evidence indicating that the person was drinking, driving, and influenced by the drinking. If they can prove this, and show that the person refused a breath test, only then can a license be suspended.
License Suspension Does Not Violate Rights
In this case, the police and state showed everything they needed to lawfully take the man’s license for refusing to take a breathalyzer. The man then challenged the law itself, arguing that it violated his First Amendment and other constitutional rights. The court disagreed, however. Under the court’s reasoning in its opinion, the use of a license is a privilege with the condition that a person take a breathalyzer test when under suspicion of DWI.
This reasoning is consistent with recent Supreme Court opinions and other court decisions. It does contrast with other state laws involving implied consent. For example, in other states it is a crime to refuse to take a breath test when under investigation for DWI. But many legal experts agree that this is a clear violation of a person’s rights under the Constitution.
Defending Your Rights
The number of rights and laws involved in each DWI case are too many to number to discuss in one post. Every DWI case is complicated and can implicate dozens of legal cases, laws, and rules. If you are charged with DWI in the Dallas, Texas area, you will need the legal counsel and aggressive representation of the Wilder DWI Defense Firm. We will defend you and counsel you to make the right decisions in your case. Contact us today.
(photo courtesy of Dodgerton Skillhaus)