Understanding the Purpose and Legal Implications of No Refusal Weekends in Texas
Law enforcement in Texas actively patrol the state's roadways for drunk drivers every day of the week. However, on No Refusal Weekends, they ramp up their efforts to keep the roads clear of people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Whether you live in Texas or plan on passing through on one of its No Refusal Weekends, you should understand the legal ramifications that driving under the influence can have for you.
What are No Refusal Weekends?
No Refusal Weekends are weekends that are specifically designated for deterring incidences of intoxicated driving. They typically occur during busier weekends of the year, such as during the Super Bowl or when college football playoffs are occurring. They also take place during holidays:
- Memorial Day
- Fourth of July
- Labor Day
- New Years
During No Refusal Weekends in Texas, police and highway patrol officers can obtain quick warrants to draw blood from a person who is suspected of driving while intoxicated and refuses to give a blood or breath sample.
These weekends have wide support from prosecutors in the state because they are effective in reducing the number of DWI offenses. While the name of the activity suggests that you do not have the right to refuse to take a breathalyzer or provide a blood sample if you are pulled over for suspicion of DWI, you can in fact refuse to comply with a field sobriety test. However, you should be aware that the police officer will be able to get an expedited warrant during that weekend to obtain a sample from you.
How Do No Refusal Weekends Differ from Regular Weekends?
No Refusal Weekends differ from regular weekends in Texas in that police officers can get faster warrants to obtain blood or urine samples from people who are suspected of DWI. Law enforcement agencies around the state increase and pool their resources during these weekends to get warrants and blood samples faster.
Magistrates are readily available during No Refusal Weekends to review and sign the affidavits that police officers present to them. Most police officers will seek blood evidence from drivers if the drivers refuse to provide a sample after they are pulled over on suspicion of DWI.
During regular weekends in the state, police officers may not readily seek a warrant to get a sample from a suspected intoxicated driver. If they do need a warrant, the process for getting one can take longer than on No Refusal Weekends.
What Qualifies as Driving While Intoxicated in Texas?
Like most states, Texas defines driving while intoxicated as having a blood alcohol concentration or BAC of 0.08 or higher. If you drink alcohol before driving and have a BAC of 0.08 or higher in Texas, you can be charged with DWI.
Your BAC will depend on factors that vary from person to person, however. The level of your BAC will depend on:
- Your gender
- Your body weight
- How many drinks you consumed
- How much food you ate while or after drinking
These factors all will affect your body's ability to handle the alcohol that you consumed. Most people are above the legal limit if they consume two to three beers in an hour. Women, younger people, and people who are thin require less alcohol to reach the legal BAC limit.
What are the Consequences for DWI in Texas?
Texas metes out a variety of punishments for people who are convicted of DWI. First-time offenders can face fines of up to $2000 as well as 3 to 180 days in jail. Also, they can lose their driver's licenses for up to one year and pay an annual fee of $1000 to $2000 to keep their licenses if or when they get it back.
People who are convicted of a second DWI offense in Texas can pay a fine of up to $4000 and serve one month to one year in jail. Also, they can lose their licenses for up to two years and pay an annual fee of $1000, $1500, or $2000 to maintain their licenses afterwards.
People with three or more DWIs will pay a fine of up to $10,000 and serve between two to 10 years in state prison. They will lose their licenses for up to two years. When they get their licenses back, they will have to pay a yearly fee of up to $2000 to the state to keep their driving privileges.
What are Your Rights During No Refusal Weekends?
Just as during regular weekends, you have legal rights that you can access during No Refusal Weekends in Texas. You do not have to comply with the officer's request to provide a breath or blood sample after you are pulled over on suspicion of DWI. While the officer is obtaining a warrant to get a sample from you, you can contact an experienced DWI attorney in Texas to represent you.
Your lawyer will make sure that the law enforcement officer had reasonable cause to pull you over and ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. He or she can also make sure that your sample was obtained legally and that the warrant clearly stipulated why and for what purpose the sample was requested.
Your lawyer can also represent you in court and help you avoid the harshest penalties for DWI. You may have the charges against you dismissed depending on the circumstances of your case. You may also avoid jail time and instead pay a civil penalty.
No Refusal Weekends in Texas are designed to reduce the incidence of DWI. They allow law enforcement officers to get fast warrants to obtain blood samples from suspected DWI offenders in the state. You have rights that you can take advantage of, however, during No Refusal Weekends. You should contact an experienced DWI attorney if you are charged with driving while intoxicated in Texas.
Houston defense lawyer Greg Tsioros provides legal advice and aggressive representation for clients charged with misdemeanors and felonies at both the state and federal level. Mr. Tsioros handles criminal defense cases of any stature – from orders of non-disclosure and expunctions to more serious DWI and drug charges.
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