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Texas No-Refusal Weekends: How They Can Impact You

Due to a grant funded by the Texas Department of Transportation, drivers in the San Antonio and greater Bexar County areas are subject to enhanced DWI/DUI enforcement. What does that added enforcement entail? Well, for one thing, it means that anyone pulled over and suspected to be under the influence of alcohol must provide a blood or breath sample for alcohol testing.

The “no-refusal” program began several years ago as an effort by law enforcement agencies to fight drunk driving during periods of notoriously high alcohol consumption. Since July 4th is the deadliest day on the roads of America each year, and eight of the 10 most dangerous days (the days when the most motor vehicle accidents occur) are in the summer, no-refusal weekends initially fell between July 4th and Labor Day.

What Does “No-Refusal” Mean?

In a nutshell, no-refusal means that a driver pulled over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated (or one who is pulled over for another traffic violation but shows indicators of intoxication like slurred speech, a strong smell of alcohol or failure to successfully complete one or more field sobriety tests) must provide a breath or blood sample for testing. If a driver doesn’t voluntarily give a blood sample or take a breathalyzer test, a warrant will be issued that gives law enforcement officials the authority to collect a sample in spite of a person’s objections.

Initially, Texas started with intermittent no-refusal days that focused on enforcement during holiday weekends. That program operated for several years with the support of advocacy groups like the Texas branch of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who proclaimed it an invaluable tool to help get intoxicated drivers off the road. The program was reviled by individual rights activists, including DWI/DUI defense attorneys around the nation and the Texas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Their chief complaint is that the forced collection of samples is a violation of the Fourth Amendment ban on unwarranted searches and seizures.

If you are pulled over on a Bexar County roadway, or in some other location with a no-refusal policy, you could be subjected to a breath or blood test if an officer deems it necessary. Your refusal to provide a breath or blood specimen upon the request of the arresting officer will trigger a license suspension according to the state’s “implied consent” law, and it will be rendered ineffective by the search warrant issued pursuant to the no-refusal policy.

If you have found yourself facing Texas DWI charges, hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the legal system without jeopardizing your rights.

Posted on June 20, 2013 in Articles

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