In honor of Halloween Weekend, the Austin Police Department has again issued a “no refusal” designation for people stopped for suspicion of DWI. Take a look at the APD No-Refusal for Halloween Weekend Press Release for more details.
I feel like many people have the wrong idea about what “no refusal” really means with regard to a DWI. It does NOT mean that you have no ability to refuse to give a breath or blood sample. What it DOES mean is that if you refuse to give consent, a judge will be available to review the facts and decide whether to issue a search warrant for a sample. And if so, then the state will stick a needle into your arm and remove a sample from you. But at least they won’t have your consent, and you can fight that issue in court.
Another way to think about it is if the police came banging on your door at night saying “We had a report of someone yelling in distress from your address. We need to come search through your house and make sure everything’s okay.” Would you say “Sure, come on in” or would you want to see a little more documentation before letting suspicious law enforcement agents into your home? Would you want a neutral judge to review the circumstances before subjecting yourself to government agents? The principle is the same as for giving a sample of your breath or blood. They may actually get it, but the question remains whether they can use it as evidence in court, or whether your breath or blood test can be suppressed.
In No-Refusal Halloween 2010, Austin police reported making 49 DWI arrests on Friday and Saturday nights combined. Here’s another more detailed report about how many warrants were actually issued (20) and how many people voluntarily gave samples, etc. What neither report shows is how many of those samples obtained were over the limit. To be fair, the blood results will take time to process, but I’m interested to see how it comes out anyway.
As always, just avoid drunk driving, and don’t push it. If you are stopped, you can help yourself LEGALLY by refusing to perform any tests of any kind, and not providing a sample of breath or blood. What happens on the roadside and what happens in court are two completely different things. There are many ways to fight a DWI, but every piece of evidence you voluntarily provide makes it that much harder to defend. If you are arrested for DWI, contact an Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer at Tillman Braniff to see how we can help you, at (512) 236-0505. Getting an experienced Austin DWI Lawyer involved early in the case can make the difference between getting a DWI conviction or not.