AUSTIN, TEXAS–In an effort to keep the public safe and enforce DWI laws, the Austin Police Department will enforce a No-Refusal policy for Mardi Gras on March 4. The initiative, which will be in effect from 9 pm to 5 am, requires individuals arrested for DWI to provide blood or breath samples.
Under the Texas Implied Consent Law, everyone driving on the road has already “consented” to giving police blood and breath samples if arrested for DWI. Individuals who refuse to give over such samples are subject to disciplinary actions.
The No-Refusal initiative echoes steps by police taken last year, in an effort to keep the roads safer by taking blood from DWI suspects. Last year, the state authorized 6,000 paramedics to assist policemen by conducting roadside DWI blood draws during traffic stops. The procedure resulted from a law passed by the Texas Legislature last spring that permits road side blood draws. It went into effect in September.
If an officer requests a blood draw, EMTs may now come on the scene promptly. A blood test will then be administered at the scene of an accident or right after an arrest is made. Prior to September’s new law, blood draws usually took place in hospitals or jails and were conducted by medical personnel with higher degrees of training than the average paramedic.
The new law has unquestionably been a catalyst for making more DWI arrests. Susan Reed, the Bexar County District Attorney, said the mobile blood tests “[give] us more options and more ability to do warrants and do blood draws in relation to DWI.” It is also notable that last year’s law came into effect on Labor Day weekend, a time of heightened DWI arrests and police presence.
Over the last year, Texas has made it increasingly easy for officers to obtain blood samples from motorists. The latest use of the No-Refusal policy fits within that trend.
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