No Shirt, No Refusal, No Problem

March 24, 2017

Texas law enforcement agencies have greatly increased and touted their “No Refusal Weekends” through TV commercials and highway marquees as a means to give drivers accused of DWI no choice but to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. This name is not only misleading, but the message communicated by police and state troopers is completely false because, despite the clever name, police cannot ignore driver’s 4th Amendment rights.

When the No Refusal Weekend policy is not in effect, Texas is an implied consent state.  This means that by driving, you are agreeing that if you refuse a breathalyzer or a blood test, you may have to forfeit your driving privileges for a period of time. (Be sure to check out TPF’s article Driver’s License, Alcohol, and You to read more about your driver’s license in the face of DWI charges). If you do refuse these tests, the arresting officer then has to go before a judge to obtain a search warrant that allows him or her to draw your blood for testing. This is because the State cannot “search” your blood without probable cause that you are actually intoxicated behind the wheel, as determined by a judge.

The difference in the process when the No Refusal Weekend policy is active . . . is nothing. You still have the ability to refuse a breath or blood test, law enforcement still has to go get a warrant before a judge, and the judge still has to sign off on the warrant by finding that probable cause exists that you in fact were operating a car while intoxicated. The only difference is that more judges and medical professionals are on duty to speed up the process between the refusal by you, the issuance of the warrant, and the actual blood draw.

If you are pulled over on a No Refusal Weekend, officers will likely try convincing you that you cannot refuse the breath or blood tests by talking about the no refusal policies, the consequences with your driver’s license, or that if “you’ll just take the test and it’s below 0.08, then we can let you go.” You absolutely still hold the power to refuse any and all tests the officers ask you to perform – even on No Refusal Weekends.

No Refusal Weekends started as occasional policy implemented on holiday weekends like New Years Eve and the 4th of July. Over the past decade, the number of No Refusal Weekends significantly increased within individual counties and state wide. Some counties like Harris and Bexar have the No Refusal policy in place almost every weekend. With this sharp increase in the use of the No Refusal Weekend policy, you need to understand your rights when you are pulled over and accused of DWI. An experienced criminal defense attorney is there to help analyze your case and determine how to fight back and protect your rights.