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Bexar County, Texas Expands Its Once-Controversial “No Refusal” Policy

Effective in mid-October, 2011, no one pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Bexar County will have the option of refusing both a breath test and blood test to check for the presence of alcohol. If a suspect refuses a breath test, he or she will immediately be slated for a blood draw. The program began back in 2008, and only provided the “no refusal” mandate for major holiday weekends. The pilot expansion program – currently only in Bexar County – is being sponsored by a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation that gives the county the money they need to account for staffing and administrative costs associated with increased testing.

Beloved by Law Enforcement, Loathed by Motorists

“No refusal” weekends have had a positive impact on the roadways in Bexar County: there has been a dramatic reduction in intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault cases, halving the number of intoxication manslaughter arrests in 2011 compared to both 2010 and 2009. They have also had a positive impact on the state’s bottom line; there is an increased number of DWI arrests, each of which could net the state thousands of dollars in fines, court costs and penalties.

One thing that the “no refusal” weekends has not done is lower the rate at which intoxicated drivers are hitting the roads of Bexar County. In fact, there have been over 5,000 DWI arrests in the county so far this year.

Civil rights activists and legal advocates are concerned that the law may be overreaching in its scope, subjecting those suspected of DWI to a blood draw against their will, something that proponents of the law stringently disagree with since the option of a breath alcohol test always exists. If you or a loved one is facing charges of DWI or another alcohol-related crime in the San Antonio or greater Bexar County area, seek the advice of a skilled criminal defense attorney in your area as soon as possible to protect your rights and keep your legal options open.

Posted on September 1, 2013 in Articles

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