Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Texas? You Could End Up Driving a Barbie Jeep

When Tara Monroe was pulled over by a police officer and asked to take a breathalyzer test, she refused. In Texas, that means your license is automatically suspended. Monroe was unfazed. She proceeded to buy a new car on Craigslist and use it to get around town. Social media has had great fun with the photos of a Texas State college student in her Fisher-Price Power Wheels Pink Barbie Jammin’ Jeep.

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Photo: https://twitter.com/hashtag/TXST19

Just why is Ms. Monroe in a kiddie car?

Monroe’s license was pulled because of something called ALR (administrative license revocation).  When you obtain a Texas driver’s license you consent to taking a blood or breath test if ever you are arrested for DWI. This agreement is called “implied consent.”

If you refuse a breathalzyer test, you are automatically suspended for 180 days. Subsequent offenses earn a 2 year suspensions.  It’s an administrative (civil) suspension, not a criminal proceeding, so there does not have to be a trial.

You might think this move worth it because it will keep you from being convicted of DWI. However, refusing a test won’t necessarily get you out of other legal trouble. Even without proof of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08%, the prosecution might decide they have enough evidence to warrant going to trial. Don’t forget there is the police officer’s testimony, as well as that of other witnesses. In that case, you might end up accused of refusing the breath test precisely because you were drunk. And  that could work against you.

To recap: even after refusing a breathalyzer test, you can be convicted of DWI in Texas.

We hope Ms. Monroe will enjoy her 180 days in her Barbie Jeep. As for other Texans who might feel they have an option in case they’re caught drinking and driving, we suggest they reconsider breath test refusal . The joke will wear thin after a while. 5 mph is, after all, 5 mph.

It’s time to stop kidding around. Don’t drink and drive.