Celebrate the new year with the DWI Security Theater production of No Refusal. Of course by “no refusal” what is really meant is that the police are going to punish you for not taking their breath test, exercising your right to remain silent and not produce evidence, and exercising your right to not be held down while police goons steal your blood.
“No refusal” sounds better to the public than “forced blood draw program”. PR points for the police. Here the story from Bell County.
“We want everyone in Bell County to have a great New Year’s holiday,” Sheriff Dan Smith said. “Our intent is to protect the public and have an accident and fatality free holiday.”
People suspected of driving while intoxicated are generally asked to submit to a breath test that measures the person’s blood-alcohol content. Those who refuse the test may have their licenses suspended but they also leave prosecutors with one less piece of evidence to use against them.
“We’re not going to allow refusals,” Smith said….
“We’ll be out in force,” said Mike Gentry, police chief in Harker Heights. “Drinking and driving is unacceptable and highly dangerous conduct.”
This is why police chiefs and sheriffs can’t practice law. First, a refusal itself doesn’t mean the police can get a warrant. They must have probable cause of DWI. Simply not allowing refusals isn’t a legitimate goal of law enforcement.
Second, to correct Mr. Gentry, drinking and driving is NOT illegal in Texas. He may consider it unacceptable and highly dangerous (as I consider home invasion SWAT raids), but he shouldn’t be arresting for it. Mr. Gentry has been exposed to so much TxDot propaganda he has forgotten (or never knew) what the law is. DWI requires intoxication, not just drinking.
But wait, Bell County isn’t alone, here is the story from Smith county.
Upon the arrest of a suspected drunken driver, he or she will be asked if they would submit to blow into a breath-test machine or take a blood test. If the driver refuses and says ‘no,’ officers will obtain an immediate search warrant signed by a judge on call to have blood drawn by a nurse on staff at the Smith County Jail,” said Don Martin, Tyler Police public information officer.
Bobby Mims, public affairs officer for the Smith County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said Monday that the group met and came up with an appropriate response to the “No Refusal” weekend announced by Tyler police.
He said defense attorneys are not telling the public to refuse the test but want the public, as well as law enforcement officers and judges, to know that sufficient probable cause based on evidence is needed for a search warrant and that just refusing a breath test is not sufficient.
He said just because it is a “No Refusal” weekend, doesn’t mean people don’t have a defense.
“You do have a defense, and we’re going to provide it to our clients,” Mims said.
Nice try Mr. Martin. Notice how the police believe that upon a refusal they have the automatic right to a search warrant. Probable cause to arrest never occurs to them. We don’t spend a lot of time teaching police the value or nuances of the 4th, 5th, or 6th amendments. So it’s not suprising that they have no working knowledge of your rights.
Bobby Mims cuts through the empty rhetoric to inform the public that the law can still protect them from the best intentions of DWI zealots.
Finally, have a safe and enjoyable New Years. Call a cab, and yes, don’t drink and drive unless you want to spend time with DWI vampires; thirsting for your blood while ignorant of your rights.