Texas criminal defense attorneys hopefully will find a benefit from the growing national media attention to the state’s No Refusal campaigns that attempt to target drunk driving dangers but in doing so, endanger basic civil rights – something that every American should know.
When rights are taken from you, there’s usually no advance invitation sent – the quieter the grab, the better. Which is why we’ve been monitoring the No Refusal campaign here and why it’s good to see the national media taking note of what is happening here in Texas.
In this week’s Wall Street Journal, there is a lengthy discussion of Texas’ “no refusal” campaign, which the WSJ has labelled a “blood-test policy.” Included in the WSJ article is an overview of how No Refusal campaigns are getting to be as popular as the Kardashians here in Texas as well as gaining in popularity in other states, like Florida and Louisiana and Illinois.
Over at Fox News, there’s also some media coverage of Texas’ No Refusal campaign. Included there, some discussion of the basic constitutional issues that the No Refusal campaign brings with it.
Here in Dallas, people are taking notice. In D Magazine’s FrontBurner column this past Tuesday, Michael Mooney pondered what the No Refusal campaign really means to everyone, and ends his article with the realization that allowing the police power to take your blood out of your body AGAINST YOUR WILL is “terrifying.”
That’s right, Mr. Mooney – it is terrifying. People need to get what is going on here.
Texas DWI No Refusal Campaign Violates Constitutional Rights.
Let’s consider what is happening down in San Antonio because we know that Dallas and Fort Worth and Houston and every other district attorney in this state is watching San Antonio’s head prosecutor Susan Reed to see how well her No Refusal prototype works out. Reed has implemented a No Refusal Campaign in Bexar County not just for holidays or three-day weekends, but every single day of the week.
In Bexar County right now, the No Refusal Campaign is in place 24/7/365. It’s been okayed and funded by the State of Texas’ Department of Transportation grant of $1.4 million, by the way.
This means that any person who is pulled over by law enforcment in the San Antonio area can be forced to have their blood drawn – and the traditional hurdle of having a hearing or some kind of argument against that search and seizure is out the window as judges are on standby to rubber stamp search warrants allowing the blood to be drawn.
It’s a standardized procedure in the Alamo City right now. Get pulled over, and refuse to take a breath test, and the San Antonio law enforcement will put you in their vehicle and drive you down to the nearest magistrate’s office. There’s a judge at the ready to sign a search warrant to allow the blood to be taken from you, and that warrant gets signed. (Where are your arguments before that judge? Good question.)
Next, the blood is taken by a nurse and then it gets taken over to the medical examiner so the blood alcohol content can be determined in the examiner’s crime lab. If the BAC meets or exceeds the legal limit for intoxication, then you’re arrested for Driving While Intoxicated.
However, this should not be the whole story. Consider these unknowns:
- We are not aware of how many times those warrants are requested and not signed. (If there’s ever a refusal.)
- No reports on how often the tests come back with results that show the BAC has not met the legal limits. (Think about that one.)
- No reports on whether or not certain cops are doing this more often than others. (These campaigns give cops lots of power, don’t they?)
- No reports on whether or not certain classes of folk are getting pulled over more often than others. (If you are African American, are you more likely to be stopped?)
The federal constitution protects against unreasonable search and seizure. It also protects our due process rights. Police powers must be monitored and curtailed in order for freedom to be maintained.
For more information, consider:
Defenses to Blood Samples (Contamination, Legal Blood vs Medical Blood, Impact of Medications, etc.)