“A No Refusal Weekend” simply is a local policy that a certain police department may announce to the general public (on the news, on the radio, etc.) that they are employing a policy, during a certain time interval– usually on major holidays – whereby if someone is arrested during this time period for a charge of Driving While Intoxicated – if the person refuses to give a chemical specimen of their breath or blood – the officers must instead have to proceed with obtaining a search warrant to be a signed by a magistrate Judge that will allow for the collection of a blood sample. It does NOT, HOWEVER, take away the ability for the citizen accused from exercising their right to refuse to give a voluntary sample.
What “No Refusal” DOES NOT mean is that a person IS FORCED to give up any of their constitutional and/or statutory rights, including their right to refuse to voluntarily give a chemical specimen of breath or blood following an arrest for DWI. Usually, it just means a specific police department will have the proper protocol in place, usually in order to encourage and PRESSURE an individual into giving their consent. All it means, simply put, is they usually will have the required mechanism in place, so to speak, in order to expedite the process to make it a bit quicker. Usually it only means they may have a Judge on hand ready to sign a search warrant when presented (instead of having to find one that is available and not asleep), a phlebotomist (or another qualified technician) available to draw the blood after the search warrant is signed (rather than actually have to transport someone to a hospital to find a nurse to facilitate the blood draw procedure).
IT DOES NOT, HOWEVER, OBVIATE WITH WHAT IS REQUIRED BY LAW. Even during a “No Refusal” period – an individual CAN AND SHOULD STILL decline to give a chemical specimen.
Because of this prevailing myth and how far it has propagated over the years - it has resulted in how most people now believe they MUST give a breath or blood sample when asked by a police officer after they are already under arrest – all because they have heard somewhere of the “No Refusal” policy. Very often is the case now the citizen accused simply agrees to voluntarily give a chemical specimen of breath or blood – simply because they THINK THEY ARE REQUIRED TO BY LAW. THIS IS NOT THE CASE.
If you are arrested for DWI, regardless of, if it is a “No Refusal” period or not – YOU ALWAYS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DECLINE TO GIVE A VOLUNTARY CHEMICAL SPECIMEN. Do not be erroneously led to believe that just because whatever you have heard on the news about “No Refusals” – you do not have a decision in the matter, and therefore will be forced to give a sample REGARDLESS. Many individuals now, which was not the case years ago, agree to voluntarily give a sample of their breath, ONLY because they mistakenly understood the law about their right to REFUSE. SO - Be educated about the process!
In fact, one CAN – AND SHOULD REFUSE TO GIVE A CHEMICAL SPECIMEN OF BREATH OR BLOOD if arrested for a DWI. The law states that one can choose to NOT give a voluntary chemical specimen of breath or blood. “NO refusal” weekend or not – the law and procedure that must take place is still the same. Recent Texas and the United States Supreme Court cases have mandated that - without proper exigent circumstances - a police officer MUST OBTAIN A SEARCH WARRANT if an individual DOES NOT voluntarily consent to give a chemical specimen.
There is a myriad of reasons for why one should exercise their right – and “CHOOSE TO REFUSE.” One reason is the very real and distinct possibility that some error may occur in the legal process of obtaining a search warrant. Another possibility is that all of the requisite legal items that are necessary to properly obtain a search warrant may not be able to be achieved.
If a search warrant is obtained, do not argue with an officer, be polite, and strictly maintain that you are not giving your consent voluntarily. If they do obtain a search warrant, the reality is that it will take significantly longer – and it may be as long as a couple, or even a few hours before they legally obtain everything required before the blood draw is to take place. During this time period, usually alcohol will eliminate from your system, and in all likelihood – your “BAC” – your “Blood-Alcohol Content” Level will be lower than at this point, compared to if you had to just your voluntary consent initially. If they do get a search warrant, an experienced DWI attorney can examine its contents to scrutinize if it meets proper legal standards. If all necessary and legal requirements are NOT MET, the search warrant can be attacked in court.
Thus, if you find yourself in this position – please be informed of exactly what a “No Refusal Weekend” or a “No Refusal Policy” entails before voluntarily giving a chemical specimen. Do not do the job of the police officers for them. You have rights, and it is within your power to assert them.
I am Carl David Ceder, I am Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Legal Specialization – and I am passionate about trying to educate the general public about what YOUR RIGHTS ARE WHEN DEALING WITH THE POLICE. Therefore, always “CHOOSE TO REFUSE – even if it is “No Refusal” weekend.