The Austin, Texas, Police Department has announced the implementation of a “no refusal” policy until the “end of summer,” by which officers can forcibly extract blood samples and breath tests from drivers without consent.
“The no refusal initiative is an effort to enforce DWI laws, keep the public safe, and to conduct blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to give a breath or blood specimen as required by law,” the department claimed in a press release. “A high number of DWI arrests are made in Austin each year.”
“No refusal” means police can forcibly extract blood or breath samples against a person’s will after they have refused, enabling law enforcement to secure evidence which may aid in future prosecution.
A judge is typically on hand to sign warrants, an effort to give the blood draws an air of legitimacy in the face of Fourth Amendment violations.
DWI attorney Jamie Balagia, who specializes in contesting DWI cases, has said the “no refusal” policy basically amounts to police telling the public, “We’re going to take your blood no matter what you do.”
“I’ve never seen a judge say no” to a warrant for blood draws, Balagia told The Fix in 2012. “Why not have a chimpanzee rubber-stamp these warrants? Because they are not turning down or rejecting any of them.”
The San Antonio-based former cop-turned-attorney’s website, DWIDude.com, informs the public they still have rights when faced with a “no refusal” traffic stop, despite being suspected of driving under the influence.
“You have the right to refuse to answer questions about whether you have been drinking, perform any field sobriety tests, and give the police permission to search your car,” the attorney’s site advises, among other things.
As Balagia explains, once a warrant is obtained police must “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving while intoxicated.”
“If the police get a warrant you have to submit a sample of your blood,” he says. “Nonetheless, this warrant can later be challenged in court, and may result in any blood results being excluded from trial or subsequent hearings related to a DWI in Texas.”
Balagia also lists a number of objections which can be brought before the court to strike blood draw evidence from the record, including ensuring a trained phlebotomist followed all correct procedures, in addition to confirming that a proper lab set-up was used.
“A big myth in a Texas DWI case is that the blood test results are more reliable than any other chemical DWI testing. This is simply not true,” Balagia says. “There are many things that can cause a high BAC results in a blood test artificially, which means the test can be very unreliable.”
The APD initiative runs from August 21 through September 3, at which point police say they will institute their Labor Day policing initiative, which they have yet to announce the details of.
Watch: DWI Attorney Jamie Balagia appears on the Alex Jones Show to discuss how revenue generation through questionable DWI stops and other programs has become standard for local law enforcement agencies.