Memorial Day is behind us. July 4th is fast approaching. And this weekend, Austin hosts the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally. To each of these events, central Texas police respond by stepping up traffic enforcement and DWI enforcement. Rest assured they are on the hunt, and we are all the prey. Their primary tool in this hunt, is the No-Refusal Weekend.
Given all of this, many people have asked me about No-Refusal Weekends. Some have had no idea what that phrase means. Those who are familiar with the phrase still do not know how it works. A few others have had specific questions. I understand that these folks are not alone. This post is meant to provide general information on No-Refusal Weekends to all those who may find it useful.
Please note, this post is only a general overview. I plan to post to this blog and episode of the Intelligent Defense podcast soon that will have a more in-depth analysis and explanation of this issue.
A No-Refusal Weekend is a time when law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors collaborate to try to curb DWIs as much as possible during a specific period of time by ensuring legal mechanisms are in place to draw the blood of every person arrested during this time for DWI who refuses the breath test.
No-Refusal procedures are used in misdemeanor DWI cases. Why? Texas law allows law enforcement to take your blood without your consent if they accuse and arrest you for a felony intoxication related offense such as DWI 3rd or More, Intoxication Manslaughter, Intoxication Assault, DWI with Child Passenger (passenger with a child under 15), and other similar cases.
In a misdemeanor case, a No-Refusal DWI process allows the cop on a misdemeanor to quickly obtain a judge signed search warrant to have your blood drawn. Cops are often in a big hurry to get your blood drawn because they know that you body is digesting the alcohol the entire time they conduct their investigation, arrest, and blood draw process.
What actually happens? In brief, the cop stops, investigates, and arrests you. Then she calls a prosecutor, usually on an on-call phone. The prosecutor listens to the facts and fills in the blanks on a form DWI Blood Search Warrant drafted ahead of time just for this purpose. The cop picks up, sometimes via email or fax, a copy of the warrant. The cop then takes the warrant to a judge, who has agreed ahead of time to be on call and woken up, who reviews and signs the search warrant. The cop then takes you and the warrant to a hospital, a jail infirmary, or wherever it is the blood draw will happen. Then the, hopefully, trained person draws your blood. If you resist, the cop will use all force necessary to take your blood from you.
While the specific mechanics may vary from county to county in Texas—Hays County, Travis County, Williamson County, Bell County, all handle these issues somewhat different ways.
Can this be done legally correctly and fairly? Yes. Can and is this process abused? Yes. Can the cops violate your rights and create legal issues for you. Absolutely. The legality of the No-Refusal process, despite how uniform the state tries to make it, really comes down to a case-by-case analysis of the specific facts and the specific warrant.
Look for a future Intelligent Defense podcast episode for more information and discussion on this important topic.
So, be careful this weekend. Be aware that the cops are out there, looking for drivers they can stop, and planning to get a warrant.
If you have more questions about No-Refusal Weekends or have been accused of DWI, call me at 512-686-0105. I’d be happy to help.