The last thing you want to happen on a holiday weekend is to be pulled over by the police on suspicion of drunk driving. Unfortunately, it can and does happen. If it does, you will likely be asked to blow into a breathalyzer to see if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit. Under normal circumstances, you have the right to refuse the breathalyzer test on the scene. Typically, if you refuse on the scene, police officers must obtain a blood search warrant and transport you to a hospital or other facility for a blood test.
When Texas law enforcement implements no-refusal policies on weekends or holidays, the process is streamlined. That is, if you refuse the Breathalyzer test, police would be able to obtain blood search warrants from local on-call judges quickly (often electronically), and there would be nurses on the scene or at the jail to draw blood almost immediately.
Clearly, the purpose of no-refusal initiatives is to deter drunk driving, keeping streets safe for motorists and other members of the community. However, there is some controversy over the legality no-refusal initiatives. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a major opponent of no-refusal policies based on the unreasonable search and seizure laws and medical privacy laws.
It is important for all drivers to understand their constitutional rights if they are stopped by police for suspected drunk driving.
If you are charged with DUI, you have the right to:
- Stay silent
- Have an attorney with you prior to and during questioning
- Have a public defender if you cannot afford an attorney
- Terminate questioning anytime you wish
If you are stopped, you have the right to refuse to:
- Address anything with police except your driver's license, insurance, and car registration
- Take field sobriety tests
- Blow into the breathalyzer
- Give permission for police to search your car
No one wants the streets to be unsafe for drivers, pedestrians and other residents; however, no one should be arrested wrongfully or unlawfully either.
If you have been arrested for a DWI during a no-refusal weekend, or anytime, it's in your best interest to consult with an experienced DWI attorney to review your case and determine whether you have grounds to contest the arrest.