No Refusal Weekends – Austin’s DWI Prevention Program Explained
Since 2008, the Austin Police Department and other surrounding agencies have started an initiative that is aimed at stopping drunk driving during holiday and large event weekends. They have named these weekends, “No Refusal” weekends and implement the strategy by having more officers patrolling, expedited warrant processes, using mobile blood draw stations and increasing their police presence downtown, on the lake and at events. Expert attorney Jason Trumpler, discusses DWI No Refusal enforcement and future dates to be aware of. (This being said, it should be known that at this time an officer can seek a warrant whenever he or she has probable cause to arrest for a DWI or BWI, whether it is a "No Refusal Weekend" or not. The process may just take a little longer as the article will discuss.)
So what does “No Refusal” mean?
Normally, when a person is stopped and accused of driving while intoxicated (DWI), they are asked to submit to a breath test, field sobriety test or blood draw at the station. Under normal circumstances, the person has a right to refuse any of these tests and must be taken to a jail or courthouse and the officer must obtain a warrant for a breath or blood sample. These warrants can take time to be issued as the magistrate on duty is not mandating them regularly and dealing with other cases.
During “No Refusal” the accused driver still has the right to refuse a blood or breath sample but the difference is that the warrant process is expedited and warrants for these samples are issued faster. In some cases, warrants are issued at mobile blood draw stations and blood or breath is taken directly at the site. At No Refusal times, the warrants are issued so quickly that the results are more accurate if taken minutes rather than hours later. After the warrant is issued, a person must submit their blood or breath specimen, if they do not want to do this voluntarily it will be forcibly taken.
The issue with the name “No Refusal” is that drivers believe that they must submit a specimen when asked and this is simply not true. Suspected drivers can still refuse the test and wait for a warrant but during these weekends, magistrates are designated to issue warrants at a faster pace and police are allowed administer the tests more quickly than normal.
How is it enforced?
The Austin Police Department announces the dates and times, usually a week or two, before No Refusal is going to start but it almost always happens during holiday weekends or during large events like SXSW or ACL. No Refusal is also only implemented during night time hours between 9 p.m. – 5 a.m. since there is a peak of DWI cases after events end or when the bars close.
This year, No Refusal Weekends have been “extended” twice already, last March and this July. In March, it lasted from March 4-21, 2016 and included the week of SXSW and Spring Break which resulted in over 200 arrests during no refusal hours.
This July, APD has extended “No Refusal” weekends beyond just the Fourth of July holiday, stating that July is the month with the highest number of DWI arrests.
The July 2016 dates are:
Friday, June 24th starting at 9 p.m. – Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, ending at 5 a.m.
During this holiday weekend, No Refusal will be enforced 24 hours a day (all day, every day - not the normal 9 p.m. – 5 a.m. hours). This is to encourage drivers to find safe rides of transportation and extends to Lake Austin and Lake Travis boat operators.
The extended summer weekends (Friday and Saturday) have regular No Refusal Hours (9 p.m. – 5 a.m.) throughout the rest of July:
July 8 & 9
July 15 & 16
July 22 & 23
July 29 & 30
Any driver appearing to the under the influence of alcohol will have to submit to a blood or breath test during these weekends. It is still in your best interest to refuse a blood test and wait for a warrant to be issued since alcohol levels may be lowered below the 0.8 legal limit during the additional time spent waiting. If you do refuse the test and wait for a warrant, your driver’s or boating license could be suspended for 180 days. Consequences for DWI convictions can vary depending on the circumstances but our offices can help get charges lowered or offenders on a deferral program.
In past years, no refusal has always been on the following holiday weekends. Other Dates in 2016 to be aware of:
Labor Day Weekend – Friday, September 2 – Tuesday September 6, 2016
Halloween – Sunday, October 30- Monday, October 31, 2016
Thanksgiving Weekend – Wednesday, November 23 – Monday, November 28, 2016
No Refusal Hours may be extended from Thanksgiving through the month of December ending after Christmas Day on – Monday, December 26 at 5 a.m.
New Year’s Eve – Saturday, December 31, 2016 – Sunday, January 1, 2017
Drivers and event goers should also check the APD website for possible No Refusal Hours during the two ACL (Austin City Limits) Festival weekends, September 30 – October 2, 2016 and October 7-9, 2016.
Surrounding Agencies in Travis and Williamson County that will also be participating in the No Refusal Initiative:
· The Travis County Sheriff’s Office
· Cedar Park Police Department
· Pflugerville Police Department
· Bee Cave Police Department
· Sunset Valley Police Department
· The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
· Lakeway Police Department
· Leander Police Department
· Manor Police Department
· The Texas Department of Public Safety
Be aware that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be enforcing No Refusal on the waterways (Lake Austin or Lake Travis). It is also against the law to be intoxicated or have open containers at any of the surrounding Austin Greenbelt Parks.
If you get pulled over and asked to submit to a blood or breath test during any No Refusal Weekend, wait for a warrant to be issued and immediately call us at 512-457-5200. The Law Offices of Jason Trumpler handles DWI cases regularly and can help you 24/7 at 512-457-5200, don’t hesitate to call or email our offices firstname.lastname@example.org if you find yourself accused of a DWI.
Be safe this holiday weekend and always designate a sober driver or call a taxi service or ridesharing company if you are too intoxicated to drive!