It's hot out in Austin and the Texas Hill Country, and this weekend the heat will also be on for residents pulled over for drinking and driving. APD announced yesterday that they will conduct a "no refusal" and "no personal watercraft" weekend on Lake Austin. No refusal refers to APD's intention of procuring blood warrants for DWI/BWI suspects who refuse to provide a breath specimen after they have been arrested. The "no personal watercraft" such as jet skis, are prohibited on Lake Austin during the weekend beginning at sunset today, Friday, until sunrise Tuesday morning.
APD states this "no refusal" policy will be in effect 9 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday morning, and the boating "no refusal" will be from 12 p.m. Sunday until 5 a.m Monday morning. I have posted in the past regarding DWI/BWI search warrants (see here). The "no refusal" policy will also be in effect on Lake Travis and other area lakes according to Travis County Sheriff's Office. The main thing to remember: it is not illegal to refuse the standardized field sobriety tests, or the breath test. The arresting officer must have probable cause to believe you are intoxicated and your refusal alone is not sufficient to meet that standard. Many reports in the media state that if you refuse, a warrant will be automatically obtained. This is a false statement. The officer has to apply to a judge for the warrant, then the judge must believe probable cause exists before he may issue the warrant. Judges deny applications for warrants everyday. This makes the term 'No Refusal' a misnomer. You can always refuse. Law enforecement itself will advise you of this right (or at least they should in accordance with the Implied Consent statutes). A warrant is not automatic, and is not guaranteed in every case. Also remember that the police do not request an evidentiary breath or blood specimen until after you have been placed under arrest. If a warrant is obtained, then you must cooperate, and resisting at that point will only get you into more trouble. Acquiescing once a warrant is obtained is the only option. Afterwards, you need to talk to me and we will discuss what needs to be done to fight the arrest and the warrant.
This Memorial Day also means that there will be a large police presence on other local lakes such as Lake Travis, Lake LBJ, and Lake Buchanan. LCRA and other Hill Country agencies in Burnet and Llano counties have already announced their plans for a BWI task force and the potential of "no refusal" policies at these places is very likely.
I want everyone to have a good time this weekend and celebrate the memories of those who fought and died for your right to refuse these tests and be free from government oppression and tyranny. But please make sure you do so carefully and responsibly. If you or someone you love gets arrested, please call me right away so we can get to work.