“No Refusal Weekends”: What You Need to Know
Austin Police Department has declared every weekend from now until September “No Refusal Weekends”. I am going to explain what this is here.
A “No Refusal” Weekend or time period is a time in which police officers will seek warrants for blood draws for every single person who refuses to provide a breath specimen when arrested for DWI or intoxication related offenses. When arrested for DWI, each person is given the option of providing a legal breath specimen (on an Intoxilyzer at the jail, not at the side of the road) to be tested for alcohol. No Refusal means if you do not agree to do this (it’s impossible to force a good breath specimen – you can’t forcibly make someone exhale, at least not legally) then the police officer will get a warrant for your blood.
This happens within an hour or so. There is 24 hour magistration at the jail, so a judge is always available to sign blood search warrants at any time of day.
It is possible that a judge could find there is not probable cause for an arrest and will not sign a blood search warrant, but this is rare. Don’t count on it.
If you resist the blood draw after a warrant is signed, it will be forcibly taken from you. The blood draw is done by a phlebotomist or some qualified tech, not by the police officer or a corrections officer. It is taken to the central evidence room if it’s an APD case and then taken to the lab and tested. This usually takes 4-6 months.
Now, most people want to know if they “should” blow or not. That is a very complicated question and there’s not really a clear answer. What you should know for Travis County is that cooperation IS taken into consideration by the prosecution, especially if your blood alcohol level is found to be relatively low. On a “No Refusal” Weekend, it may be worth it to cooperate because they are going to get a sample either way. If you are intoxicated on another substance other than alcohol, you maybe should blow to keep them from taking your blood and running it for illicit drugs, but blowing zeros into the Intoxilyzer may or may not stop the officer from getting a blood specimen if he suspects an illicit substance.
APD is the only jurisdiction in Travis County that does No Refusal. Travis County Sheriff and the smaller PDs (Bee Cave, Sunset Valley, etc) do not have a similar program.