The Problem With “No Refusal” Weekends

As this blog reported last week, over the Fourth of July Weekend, the Department of Public Safety in Texas made over 1400 arrests for DWI statewide (that number does not include arrests for DWI made by local agencies). Fourth of July was a “no refusal” weekend, so undoubtedly, a large percentage of those arrested had their blood drawn after refusing a breath test. As criminal defense attorneys know, “no refusal” weekends are simply weekends were additional law enforcement officials – including police officers, prosecutors and judges – are on standby to prepare and execute search warrants to draw blood from  anyone who (in most cases) refuses a breath test after being arrested on suspicion for DWI.

Criminal defense attorneys also know that “no refusal” is a misnomer. In other words, if you are stopped and investigated for DWI, you still have every right to refuse a chemical test, and field sobriety tests, regardless of the name of the campaign. Unfortunately, “no refusal” weekends have had the effect of misinforming law enforcement and the public as to the right of refusal. By law in Texas, law enforcement officers can only give limited warnings regarding the legal effect of refusing a chemical test like a breath test or blood test in a DWI case. Of course, this is no different on a “no refusal” weekend. However, we are beginning to see that some ill-informed law enforcement officers think that they are justified in bullying suspects into taking tests on “no refusal” weekends. This is illegal and could lead to the suppression of evidence obtained through these coerced blood draws.