A local newspaper is reporting that Tarrant County law enforcement will implement a no refusal campaign involving DWI investigations for the next few weeks. The program is being announced in the busy holiday season when more and more drivers are on the road following family get-togethers, parties, and season events.
Such campaigns by law enforcement are not uncommon. Nearly every big holiday is accompanied by an effort by the authorities to crack down on DWI suspects and score big arrest numbers. Running stories about the campaign and results are likely a way for law enforcement and prosecutors to convey a message to the public about how they are doing their jobs. But these kinds of police actions do not always result in a better justice system.
Justification for Plan
As a way to justify the announced program, the local paper cites several statistics about DWIs and related accidents. According to the paper, in Texas and and Tarrant County last year there were:
These are sobering facts, but do the justify the imposition of a police action with dubious legality? We can all agree that driving while intoxicated is against the law and it is best not to do it. But at the same time each of us must stay vigilant of our rights that are granted to us in the U.S. and Texas Constitutions and which are the backbone of the freedoms we enjoy.
Legality and Protecting Your Rights
When the police announce in advance that they are going to hold a no refusal campaign for DWI, they are signaling that a person’s right to refuse a police search will be penalized. Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution each of has the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted that provision of the constitution to mean that unless the police have a warrant to conduct a search, it is unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional.
Getting a breath or blood test from a DWI suspect is a search by the police and therefore the police must have a warrant to do so. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as the when a suspect consents to a search or there are exigent circumstances. But barring those situations, the police must have a warrant to conduct a blood or breath search in the course of a DWI investigation. That is a right, and when the police announce they intend to threaten the ability of the citizenry to exercise that right, their legal foundation is, to say the least, precarious.
A DWI Defense Firm on Your Side
Under Texas law there are civil penalties for refusing a blood or breath test in connection with a DWI investigation, and so every DWI suspect should take those penalties into account. At the Wilder DWI Defense Firm our team of DWI defense professionals will ensure that we protect your rights whether in the civil side of your DWI case or the criminal. Contact us if you have been arrested on suspicion of DWI.