While holiday weekends usually mark an occasion for people to get together and have a good time, in some states holiday weekends mark an occasion for officers too. These eventful weekends are called no-refusal weekends and are usually reserved for big drinking holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July. The success of no-refusal weekends has some authorities pushing to make it a full-time program.
Under normal circumstances, you can refuse a breath test if stopped for a suspected DUI. While a refusal can lead to license suspension and fines, an over the limit reading can lead to much worse. Defending against a DUI charge is usually easier without a BAC reading hanging over you. As the public becomes more aware of this and more likely to exercise their rights when stopped, law enforcement has had to change their tactics to get the proof they need for a charge.
During no-refusal weekends, drivers suspected of DUI are asked to take a sobriety test, usually in the form of a breath test. If the driver exercises their right to refuse, he or she can be taken into custody and compelled to provide a blood sample for BAC testing by way of a judge ordered warrant. While typical refusals land the driver in the hospital for a blood test, refusals done on no-refusal weekends land the driver in jail with a nurse to take a blood sample. This is an attempt to get a more accurate, higher reading from the driver, as there is no time for their BAC to come down.
Much of the criticism against this practice comes from the fact that there is not a judge readily available all night to consider the situation and make the order. Instead, warrants are massed produced and waiting to be implemented when a suspected drunk driver refuses.
Supporters of no-refusal weekends are asking for the practice to be made a full-time protocol. While this may make a defense more difficult, staying informed of your rights and having a trusted defense attorney by your side can help.