As with most major holiday weekends (and more and more non-holiday weekends), Labor Day Weekend will be a “No-Refusal” weekend for DWI investigations in Houston, and in many other places in Texas. Additionally, State and local law enforcement agencies will have additional patrols and checkpoints in Houston and all over Texas to beef up DWI enforcement.
There seems to be some confusion as to what “No-Refusal” weekends entail. Many people mistakenly believe that “No-Refusal” weekends carry some sort of legal weight, and that the right to refuse a breath or blood test is somehow limited. This is wrong. The only thing different about a “No-Refusal” weekend is that law enforcement have an internal policy of obtaining search warrants to take the blood of anyone who refuses a breath or blood test in a DWI investigation. Of course, law enforcement always have that option, but because applying for and executing a search warrant is time-consuming, this is not usually done.
The fact that law enforcement choose to call these weekends “No Refusal” weekends is troubling because it seems to be a part of an intentional misinformation campaign. The term “No Refusal” is blatantly inaccurate: During no refusal weekends, DWI suspects in Houston and Texas still have every right to refuse a chemical test. What law enforcement appear to be doing is attempting to bully the public into believing that they must submit to breath tests because they do not have the right to refuse.
As a result of this misinformation campaign, many people who would otherwise refuse a breath test (usually a wise decision, by the way) are unsure whether that is still the best approach on “No Refusal” weekends. After all, many seem to ask themselves, if they will take my blood anyway, then what’s the point of refusing?
We believe that refusing is still the best approach. Although it may be true that you may be forced to give blood if you refuse to consent to a breath test during a “No-Refusal Weekend,” it does not follow that DWI suspects should succumb to bullying and make law enforcement’s job easier. Additionally, even on “No Refusal” weekends, it will usually take much longer for law enforcement to draft and execute a search warrant than administer a voluntary breath test. The additional time could result in a lower blood alcohol level – maybe even a blood alcohol below the legal limit.
Of course, the wisest plan of action is to not drink and drive at all. But if you are in unfortunate position of being the target of DWI investigation, it is important to remember your right to refuse on a “No-Refusal” weekend.