Refuse to Blow? Cops Say They'll Draw Blood Instead

Intoxicated drivers who refuse to take breath tests or field sobriety tests this weekend could find themselves giving impromptu blood samples. Dubbed a "no-refusal weekend", law enforcement in Harris, Galveston, and Brazoria counties will use a variety of legal resources to prove their cases against drunk drivers. Jack Williams reports.
"The no-refusal component of this is essentially that the state is going to exercise its right through a evidentially search warrant to take blood if folks refuse."

It's a little-known fact, but Friendswood Police Chief Robert Weiners says when drivers apply for driver's licenses with the state, they're also agreeing to consent to breath or blood samples in DWI investigations. He says this weekend, local law enforcement is simply enforcing that law. Assistant District Attorneys from all three counties will be on-call to deal with drivers who refuse.

"In addition to that, there will also be several sites set-up that will have nurses available to draw blood in the event that that's required. There will be judges who will be available who will review the probable cause affidavits that would be submitted by a police officer to be reviewed by an assistant district attorney of the respective county where the arrest is made."

It's an unusual tactic that's hardly ever used, but Galveston County District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk says authorities need hard evidence to prosecute drunk drivers.

"The only way we're going to be able to make a difference is when we have the evidence that we need to prosecute a case. When we have the evidence we need to get that conviction on an individual who is truly guilty of driving while intoxicated and impose the conditions that we want on probation or whatever it may be. This effort, I don't consider it to be a barbaric effort. I consider it to be a pursuit of justice."

Assistant Police Chief Vicki King There were 234 traffic fatalities in Houston last year. More than 60-percent of those deaths were related to alcohol consumption. Assistant Police Chief Vicki King says "Operation No-Refusal" is all about saving lives.

"Every drunk that we take off the road — saves a life — and that cannot be forgotten and that's why we're here. We're here to prevent the horrific fall-out associated with drinking and driving or driving while impaired."

Texas has the highest number of DWI fatalities in the nation. Roughly half of all Texas drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs refuse breath tests.
Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...