WHAT IS A NO-REFUSAL WEEKEND AND WHAT ARE ROAD-SIDE DWI TESTS?
It is common for police to advertise no refusal weekends on holiday weekends like Christmas, New Years, and the 4th of July and other days where it is more likely that drinking and driving will occur. But what happens if you get stopped on one of these no refusal weekends? It is important for you to understand what a “no refusal” weekend is and how it will affect your travels. If you have been stopped on a no refusal weekend reach out to the experienced criminal law attorneys at Nickols & White, PLLC.
What is a No Refusal Weekend?
A no refusal weekend typically occurs on a holiday weekend or a weekend of a special event like the Super Bowl. The purpose of a “no refusal” weekends is to catch drunk and intoxicated drivers during weekends where intoxicated driving occurs at a higher rate.
During a no refusal weekend, law enforcement will advertise that they will be conducting traffic stops for suspected DWI’s on the radio, on billboards, even on commercials. During the stop, police will ask for a blood or breath sample if they suspect the driver is intoxicated, and if the driver does not consent to a sample, the police will contact a judge or magistrate to obtain a search warrant. The officer is required to convey to the judge that there was reasonable suspicion to stop the driver and probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence.
If those two conditions are met, the judge will grant a search warrant which will allow the police to obtain a sample of blood. Further, Texas Transportation Code § 724.011, also known as the implied consent provision, states that if a person is arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the person is deemed to have consented to submit to taking one or more specimens of the person’s breath or blood for analysis. Often times, police will have a nurse or someone licensed to take the blood sample on site, and if not the police will transport the driver to a facility where the blood can be taken.
Reasonable suspicion and probable cause can include failure to maintain lane position, speeding or driving slowly, braking sporadically, slurred speech, red eyes, delayed reactions, the scent of alcohol or drugs, etc. Further, failing a road-side DWI test can give the officer probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence.
What is a Road Side DWI Test?
A road side DWI test, or Standard Field Sobriety Tests as they are known under the law, are a variety of tests that officers perform to determine whether or not someone is intoxicated. These tests include horizontal gaze nystagmus, a walk and turn test, reciting the alphabet backwards, or a one leg stand test.
A horizontal gaze nystagmus test or a “HGN” is where the officer asks the driver to follow their pen or another object with the driver’s eyes only. During this test, the officer is looking to see whether the driver’s eyes jerk or fail to follow the pen.
A walk and turn test is where the officer asks the driver to walk in a straight line, turn around, and walk back in the same straight line. In this test and the one leg stand test, the officer is looking to see whether the driver can balance because inability to balance is a sign of intoxication.
These road side tests are great ways for officers to test whether or not someone may be intoxicated, but none of these tests are 100%.
Can I Say No?
People sometimes are under the impression that they cannot refuse since these stops occur during a “no refusal” weekend. However, you can refuse. The officer is required to prove that they have reasonable suspicion to stop the driver and probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence prior to getting a warrant. But, once the officer has the warrant the driver has to comply with the warrant.
It is important to note that while you may initially refuse, refusing does not come without any consequences. The driver who refuses will have their license suspended. If this occurs, it could be a possibility to obtain an occupational driver’s license, however, you should call our Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys about obtaining an occupational driver’s license.
No refusal weekends are designed to catch people who are drinking and driving, so the best policy is to always plan a sober ride home. However, if you are stopped during a no refusal weekend, it is important to remember that you can refuse, but it may result in a loss of driving privileges. It is also important to note that once the police have probable cause and get a warrant from the judge, the driver is required to provide a sample of blood to the police. If you are stopped during a no refusal weekend, it is important to protect your rights by contacting the experienced DWI and criminal law attorneys at the Nickols & White, PLLC.