Austin, Texas No Refusal Initiative
As the summer months begin to warm up, people are coming out of the woodwork and spending their free time outside. This includes going to the lake, spending time at a barbeque, or even going to a friend's house to hang out by the pool. However, these fun times also bring around a higher possibility of drinking and driving.
Austin, Texas implements the "no refusal" policy on weekends and holidays that are likely to encourage people to throw caution to the wind and drive after consuming one too many alcoholic beverages.
On an average day, a police officer in Texas is always able to request a warrant to withdraw blood or use a breath test in order to test the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of a driver. This is normally done with the consent of the driver. However, if the driver refuses, a warrant must be obtained. In order to do this, the officer must provide a neutral magistrate - often a judge - with evidence that the officer has reasonable suspicion to detain you, probable cause to arrest you for a DWI, and that taking blood or using a breath test is necessary in order to lead to incriminating evidence of the DWI.
Although many officers will not bother with going through all of the hassle of retaining a warrant for such a blood or breath test on a misdemeanor case, it is always an option that is available to them.
However, Austin Police Department's "no refusal" policy implements different rules. "No refusal" is a public announcement that a police officer will take the extra time to obtain a warrant for a blood test or Breathalyzer test. This policy is implemented during times where drinking and driving is more likely and is put in place to encourage people to think about alternative means of transportation.
These alternate means of transportation include using a designated driver, taking a cab, or using public transportation.
Despite the policy being put in place, the evidence obtained is subject to legal scrutiny and may not be admissible in court under certain situations.
During Memorial Day Weekend this year - between Friday May 24 and Tuesday, May 28 - a total of 90 arrests were conducted for driving while intoxicated. Four of those arrests were obtained during the initiative for boating while intoxicated.
More recently, the Austin Police Department announced a "no refusal" weekend for the four-day Republic of Texas (ROT) Biker Rally. This year's "no refusal" was initiated a day earlier than the previous years. In 2012, police arrested 51 people. In 2011, 37 people were arrested. This year, 50 people were arrested during the four-day period. This year only brought about one fatal motorcycle accident during the ROT rally.