Texas Increases No-Refusal DWI Checkpoints Over the 4th of July Weekend

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Holiday weekends are known for increased DWI arrests and tragic alcohol related traffic fatalities. In an effort to thwart this trend, Texas increased no-refusal checkpoints across the state for the 2014 4th of July Weekend.

Over the 4th of July weekend, the Texas Department of Public Safety was forced to take drastic measures in order to prevent motor vehicles operators from driving under the influence. The increase in DUI checkpoints over the 4th of July holiday weekend is necessary. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System reported that between 2008 and 2012, over 630 Americans were killed during the 4th of
July weekend, and over 40 percent of these deaths were the result of drunk driving. Furthermore, here in Texas, over the past five years there have been 78 car crashes over the 4th of July holiday weekend. As a result, Texas and other states have begun to use no-refusal DUI checkpoints over the holiday weekend in order to prevent fatalities on the road due to drivers who are operating under the influence.

The Need for No-Refusal DUI Checkpoints

No-refusal checkpoints are similar to common DUI checkpoints. However, no-refusal checkpoints go beyond just requiring a driver to take a sobriety and breathalyzer test. Instead, no-refusal checkpoints require those drivers suspected of driving under the influence to have a blood test taken if they exercise their right to refuse a breathalyzer test. This requirement is significant because a blood sample can be drawn at the actual checkpoint, even if the driver does not give their consent. Typically, those arrested for suspicion of a DUI can consent or refuse to taking a breathalyzer, or other blood and urine tests that are used to determine the amount of alcohol in one’s system. A search warrant is required in order to legally perform such tests without consent. However, at no-refusal checkpoints, police officers can issue a warrant while on-site through the use of a mobile/on-call judge. This warrant grants the police officer with the legal justification for taking and testing blood on-site.

Over the weekend before and during the 4th of July weekend, no-refusal checkpoints were present in different counties in Texas. Tarrant County has gone so far as to state that they will publish the ages and names all of people arrested for DWI during the 4th of July no-refusal checkpoint time period. No-refusal checkpoints are touted as preventing the potential fatalities that DWI accidents can cause. However, opponents of no-refusal checkpoints believe that taking blood samples without consent is essentially a violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches and seizures. Opponents also point to a viral video that shows the Texas police using what some consider to be extreme force in order to take a blood sample; in this example, a DUI suspect was held down on a gurney through the force of multiple police officers. The use of force necessary to take a blood sample from a person could expose police departments to legal claims of police brutality.

Arrests Over the 4th of July Weekend

The Texas Department of Public Safety began its use of both no-refusal and regular DUI checkpoints during the weekend before 4th of July. Throughout the state, checkpoints were placed at an assortment of high-risk locations where alcohol-related car accidents occur the most. From the time period of midnight on July 4th to 6 a.m. on July 5th, 8 people were arrested for suspicion of DUI and 2 were arrested for suspicion of public intoxication. The Texas Department of Public Safety also took special measures in order to combat intoxication in the operation of boats and other vessels.

Author Jeff Hampton is a criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, Texas and founder of the Hampton Law Firm, PLLC.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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