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Larry P. McDougal - Attorney at Law
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How the Supreme Court's ruling on BAC testing affects Texas

There is a lot of confusion over whether Texas drivers have the right to refuse testing that measures the amount of alcohol in their blood during DWI stops. When you are pulled over by police and they ask you to submit to testing, it sure doesn't feel like you have much of a choice.

However, as we have discussed in past posts, you generally have the right to refuse blood alcohol testing unless there is a warrant, and you should always exercise that right by refusing to take a breathalyzer test or having blood drawn.

But a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could lead to changes. In late June, the nation's highest Court ruled that police need a warrant in order to require drivers to take blood-alcohol tests, but not breath tests. The Court reasoned that breath tests are less intrusive than blood tests.

Therefore, the Court upheld state laws that criminalize breath test refusal without a warrant, while striking down state laws that criminalize the refusal of blood tests without a warrant.

Texas law does not criminalize the refusal of either, so the ruling does not have an immediate effect here. But the ruling does give state and local lawmakers the right to change the current law to force Texas drivers to submit to breath testing without a warrant.

The bottom line is that the Supreme Court's ruling does not affect Texas law as of today, so Texas drivers should continue exercising their right to refuse a breath test and a blood test until police have obtained a warrant.

We will keep you updated on the matter in case the legislature decides to change the state's laws based on the ruling.

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