Avoiding Alcohol Testing Getting Tougher for Texas Drunk Driving Suspects

????March 11, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Local law-enforcement agencies across Texas are arresting more people for drunk driving because of "No Refusal" enforcement programs, promoted nationally by Texas prosecutor Warren Diepraam of Montgomery County.

Diepraam has worked to spread No Refusal programs beyond Texas with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the National Association of Prosecutor Coordinators and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In fact, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called for the use of No Refusal across the country and several states have responded.

No Refusal Programs

Under No Refusal, a local jurisdiction like a city or county arranges to have judges or magistrates on call to hear search-warrant requests from officers in the field when they stop drivers suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol, but the drivers refuse to comply with breath tests required by Implied Consent law.

Right on the scene, a police officer can contact the designated judicial officer with the details. If the judge issues the warrant, the suspect is ordered to give a blood sample for alcohol testing. If the suspect still refuses to cooperate, the blood may be forcibly drawn if necessary.

The reason law enforcement turns to a blood test when a breath test is refused is that an accurate blow into a Breathalyzer cannot be forced. The results of the blood test may justify a DWI arrest and possible criminal charges. Blood test results for illegal alcohol content while driving tend to constitute solid evidence of criminal DWI.

For example, over the 2012 Super Bowl weekend, the Austin, Texas, police department held a local No Refusal initiative during which they arrested 10 drivers suspected of drunk driving who may not otherwise have been apprehended. After they refused to take breath tests, those 10 drivers were subject to blood draws for testing pursuant to no-refusal search warrants.

While No Refusal programs are usually implemented during holidays or special events when the rate of drinking and driving will probably be higher, at least one Texas county (Bexar County) is using a No Refusal model year round.

Balancing Safety With Constitutional Rights

Law enforcement at all levels supports No Refusal. In Texas, the state Department of Transportation says that every 20 minutes someone in the state is hurt or killed in an alcohol-related crash. Those safety concerns are real and sobering.

However, as Americans, we are cognizant of our constitutional right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure by the government. Taking a blood sample is a type of personal search, so the government must take care that all constitutional and legal requirements are met in that process.

In that light, anyone in Texas subject to a No Refusal warrant for an involuntary blood draw should discuss his or her situation with a criminal defense attorney who can look at whether all constitutional, statutory and procedural requirements were met throughout the process.

Article provided by Scott H. Palmer P.C.
Visit us at www.scottpalmerlaw.com

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