The Deadliest Days of Summer

Memorial Day weekend officially kicked off the deadliest time of the year on the road for traffic and DWI accidents. It’s very common for police departments to publicize their “no refusal” weekend policies. In 2018, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued nearly 65,000 citations and warnings and arrested nearly 400 people for DWI.

Teen drivers are especially at risk of death by a car crash. Just as soon as school lets out for summer, there are more youth on the roads just by the nature of their not having to be anywhere for school the next day.

Though the roadside signs dotting the highways seem to communicate otherwise during popular summer holiday travel periods, there is no statute in the Texas criminal code that permits a police department or other law enforcement entity from running a “no refusal” weekend. Rather, the term refers to a department’s ability to quickly obtain a search warrant for a specimen – usually a blood sample – if a driver suspected of driving while intoxicated refuses to give a breath or blood sample. During so-called “no refusal” weekends, police departments may actually have a magistrate present at the jail to expedite the process of obtaining a warrant for a blood sample for an arrested person suspected of DWI. 

No refusal also means that a law enforcement officer may forcibly take a blood sample from an individual suspected of DWI if any of the following criteria are met:

  • any individual has died or will die;
  • an individual other than the person operating the vehicle or boat has suffered a serious bodily injury; or
  • any individual other than the person operating the vehicle or boat has been transferred to a hospital or medical facility for treatment.

Additionally, if an individual is operating a vehicle or boat with a child passenger under the age of 15, law enforcement have the power to hold you down without your consent and without a search warrant.

As always, if you’re drinking this weekend or any weekend throughout the summer and get pulled over on suspicion of DWI in North Texas, I highly recommend AGAINST submitting to the Field Sobriety Test. The repercussions of refusal are an automatic driver’s license suspension, but I believe this is a small price to pay for avoiding the potentially disastrous results of a FST.

OK, so, you’ve refused to give a voluntary sample. What next? During a “no refusal” weekend, an arresting officer will likely have a magistrate at the jail to quickly sign a search warrant and possibly even someone present to perform a blood draw once the search warrant is obtained.

If and when the officer obtains a search warrant, you will of course have to submit to a blood draw. Be polite and respectful of the officers but do not change your stance on not giving your sample voluntarily. You can simply and politely state to the officers that while you understand and respect the search warrant, you maintain you are not submitting to the blood draw voluntarily but only because the search warrant has been obtained. 

Be advised that even during a “no refusal” weekend, it can still take an hour or more for an officer to complete all the steps prior to actually taking your blood. Time is your friend. The more time that passes from initial traffic stop to the actual blood draw, the more your blood alcohol content will have declined.

If you are arrested for DWI, a skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to carefully examine every aspect of the initial traffic stop, arrest and search warrant to identify whether the arresting officer violated your rights during the process. As the summer heats up, choose ahead of time to be responsible and make a plan for when you will be drinking. Make sure you have a safe way home for yourself or your guests if you are hosting during summer events.

When dealing with police, be polite and respectful, but remember that you do have rights. At our office, we are passionate about protecting the rights of individuals. If you are planning to celebrate summer holidays with friends and family, make sure you have our number programmed into your phone. Call 972-ASK-CHAD. Our phones are answered 24/7.

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