What happens if a drunk driver refuses to take a sobriety test in Fort Worth?

Fort Worth, TX – When you’re involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, the most important thing is to prove that the guy was indeed intoxicated as this factor will influence the amount of damages you can seek. In most cases, it’s easy to tell if someone is drunk. The police officer investigating the crash will also notice it. The problem is that the driver also knows he is drunk and he’ll be aware of the consequences. A driver who is facing his third DWI arrest risks going to jail for 2 to 10 years, so he’ll try to avoid taking tests. 

Can you refuse a breathalyzer test in Fort Worth?

Under Texas’s “implied consent” laws all drivers lawfully arrested for a DWI must submit to a blood or breath test, also known as a breathalyzer. A driver can, however, refuse to submit to a breathalyzer, although such a thing carries an automatic suspension of their driver’s license. It may also complicate matters for you, so if you were injured in a crash and the driver refuses to take a breath test it’s best to seek counsel from experienced Fort Worth DWI accident lawyers.

What if a drunk driver refuses to take a field sobriety test?

Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher is illegal in Texas. However, a driver can be charged with DWI even if their BAC is lower than the legal limit. For instance, if a driver has a .05 BAC, the police officer on the scene can still charge him with DWI if that person appears to be drunk. 

Signs a person is drunk:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty standing
  • Staggering
  • Talking too fast or too slow

In such a situation, the police officer may submit the driver to a field sobriety test to determine whether or not his capacity is impaired. 

There are three standardized field sobriety tests:

  • The Eye Test (the driver is required to follow a moving pen with his eyes) 
  • The Walk the Line test 
  • The One Leg Stand test 

Under Texas law, there are no legal consequences for a driver who refuses to take a sobriety test. The police officer may still arrest the driver, but you can expect the guy to challenge the fact that he was drunk if you file a civil lawsuit seeking damages. 

Can I still get punitive damages?

If you file a personal injury claim seeking punitive damages, your Texas DWI accident lawyers must prove that the other driver’s actions were egregious. You don’t get punitive damages for a regular car accident based on negligence. 

Your Texas accident lawyers will have to prove that the driver was intoxicated at the time. If the guy is a repeat offender that establishes a pattern of outrageous and risky behavior, which is enough to justify a severe punishment in the form of punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages. 

Your lawyers will use the police report focusing on the officer’s observations. You don’t have to worry if the drunk driver refused a breath or sobriety test. Such an action is usually seen as proof that the driver was guilty and tried to evade responsibility for their actions. This conduct may help them in the criminal trial, but in a civil case, which requires a lower burden of proof, the jury will be inclined to believe you and not the guy who refused to be tested. There is no cap on punitive damages in Texas, but the courts have implemented guidelines to ensure the monetary compensation is reasonable and fair.

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