Houston Police Announce DWI "No Refusal" for July 4th Weekend

Harris County DWI Enforcement Officers are at it again with another DWI "No Refusal" weekend planned for the 4th of July.

So what exactly does that mean?  It means that if you are arrested for DWI and refuse to voluntarily give a breath test or blood test, the Government will forcibly put you in a chair and stick a needle in your arm to take your blood. 

Although the Texas Courts disagree with me, I firmly believe that our right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in all aspects of our lives should cover a misdemeanor DWI charge.  In my opinion, the involuntary taking of a citizen's blood should not be allowed in misdemeanor DWI cases.  Let me know your thoughts on this or any other DWI related matters.

Houston DWI "No Refusal" Weekends - Now Every Weekend in Harris County?

According to Herman Martinez' blog, Harris County DWI "No Refusal" weekends are going to be every weekend for the next 3 years.  This should come as no surprise to any of us DWI attorneys that regularly defend those that are charged with DWI.  Apparently, the federal government has given Harris County a federal grant that funds the DWI "No Refusal" weekends.

I wonder how this will effect the crime lab that is now responsible for testing the blood that is drawn on DWI suspects?  I just received the blood results of a client that had his blood involuntarily back on July 4, 2010 - it took over 2 months to get the blood results.  Will the backlog at the Houston Police crime lab grow even larger than it already is?  Will the federal grant pay to employ more employees at the Houston crime lab to test these additional blood samples?  As always, has the government really thought through the logistics of these "No Refusal" weekends or have they hastily approved a plan that is destined to create a further backlog at the Houston Crime lab?

Labor Day in Houston - Another "No Refusal" Weekend

Another holiday weekend brings out the cops and their "No Refusal" policies.  The Houston Police Department has announced that they will once again start sticking needles in the arms of citizens for misdemeanor DWI offenses.

So what does it take for you to be strapped down against your will and have a needle stuck in your arm?  As it turns out, not a lot.  The police pull you over, smell alcohol and claim you are intoxicated.  They fill out a few forms, ask a Judge to sign a warrant (according to those that have checked, no warrant has been refused) and you are strapped into a chair with a needle stuck into your vein.

So how do you avoid the needle stick?  Don't drive while intoxicated.

By the way, you will not be in a hospital for this invasion procedure.  Instead, you will be in the "bat van" - a van they drive around the city and park.  All the other DWI suspects that refuse a breath test will be brought to the same site.  In our experience, the "bat van" has its own issues with cleanliness.

Memorial Day Weekend - Another DWI "No Refusal Weekend" - What Does That Mean?

Houston Police and other Harris County police agencies used this Memorial Day weekend to once again deprive citizens of the privacy we should all have in our own bodies.  Memorial Day weekend was announced as a "No Refusal Weekend" by authorities.

So what exactly is a "No Refusal Weekend?"  If you read the words, you would think that we as citizens of Harris County do not have the right to refuse to give a breath test or blood test if offered by the police.  This could not be further from the truth - you can always refuse to do any of the tests the police ask us to do.  That includes the right to refuse field sobriety tests, breath tests or blood tests.

That brings us back to the question, what is a "No Refusal Weekend?"  If you refuse to give a breath test or blood test, the police are forbidden from taking your blood at that point without a search warrant.  During the "No Refusal Weekend," the government puts together a team of police officers, medical personnel, district attorney's office representatives, nurses, the "bat van" and Judge(s).  The purpose of putting this "DWI TEAM" together is to make getting a search warrant for your blood easier.  The arresting officer will take you to where the "DWI TEAM" is.  The district attorney's office will help the officer draft a search warrant that is then presented to a "Neutral and Detached" Judge.  The Judge signs the warrant and they strap you down and extract your blood.

By refusing to give your breath or blood, the "DWI TEAM" is forced to jump through a few extra hoops which can sometimes lead to problems for the prosecutors.  Don't let the media / police / MADD / District Attorney's PR campaign go unchecked.  I hope that our citizens actually know the law, not what these PR campaigns want them to know.  If arrested for DWI, you absolutely have the right to refuse a breath or blood test. 

Police using threat of forced blood draws to fight DWI / Drunk Driving

As I wrote last week, Houston Police officers are being trained to draw blood on those suspected of drunk driving / DWI.  According to an AP report on September, 13 2009, cops are on patrol with tasers, guns and  now syringes.

Police officers are increasingly looking at needles as a new weapon to fight driving while intoxicated cases.  Instead of looking objectively at the results of rediculous balancing tests, the police are now relying on citizens blood to gather evidence.

Again, for the record, this type of search is in my opinion unreasonable and violates the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  We should not allow Houston Police Officers to draw blood fo Houston citizens in a Houston DWI arrest.

Harris County "No Refusal" Weekend - Erosion of our Constitution

On the eve of our July 4th Independence Day, the Harris County District Attorney's Office has announced another "no refusal" weekend will be in effect.  Understandably, many citizens hear this news and think that it is a great idea to get drunks off the road. However, let's take a closer look at exactly what a "no refusal" weekend really is.

Mandatory blood draws are exactly that - the police now have the ability to literally strap you down and forcibly take blood from a citizen.  I think this is absolutely the type of intrusion into our lives as citizens that should be prohibited by our Constitution.  In fact, the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution says,

the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.

First, a citizen has to be arrested for DWI in order to have a search warrant drawn up to draw the blood from that person.  Let me reiterate, the person is already arrested and in custody for Driving While Intoxicated before the search warrant is obtained.  Obviously, if the person is already in custody and under arrest for DWI, the police have removed that citizen from our streets.  Therefore, no more "drunks" are taken off of the streets as a result of this program.

Additionally, our Constitution is designed to protect all of those accused - both those that are guilty, but also those that are innocent.  We have represented clients that have been accused of drunk driving and had their blood forcibly taken from them that are below the legal limit or have had no alcohol in their system at all.  You can't tell me that strapping an innocent person to a gurney and drawing his blood against his will is not protected by our Constitution. 

Finally, Texas has a specific statute (at least for now) that forbids the Government from this type of intrusion on our lives.  Section 724.013 of the Texas Transportation Code says, "a specimen may not be taken if a person refuses to submit to the taking of a specimen designated by a peace officer."