“Don’t mess with Texas” is something you might have heard in relation to an anti-littering campaign, but if the Texas Department of Transportation has anything to say about it, the same slogan can now work for their latest anti-drinking and driving campaign.
Beginning this Friday, the Brownsville Police Department in Texas has instituted a year-round driving while intoxicated (DWI) no refusal policy. That means if you are suspected of driving while intoxicated, you won’t be able to refuse to submit to the Breathalyzer or provide a blood sample. In the past, the police in Brownsville had only put no refusal policies in place during busy holiday weekends when they’d be more likely to catch drinking drivers, but they moved to a year-policy to crack down on those who choose to drive while intoxicated.
Current DWI laws in Texas includes an implied consent law. Implied consent requires that you submit to the test, only receiving penalties such as a 180-license suspension should you refuse the test. With the new no refusal policy, if you are suspected of DWI and you refuse the Breathalyzer you will be sent to a local clinic for a blood draw.
Texas currently leads the nation with the highest amount of alcohol-related fatalities. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 2012 saw 1,099 alcohol-related fatalities in the state. In Brownsville alone there were 174 alcohol-related crashes.
The new no refusal policy has met some opposition from local lawyers. They believe the police department and district attorney are violating individual constitutional rights by forcing suspected offenders to submit bodily fluids. There have also been supporters of the decision including Mothers Against Drunk Driving. As part of the MADD Take the Wheel Program they continually encourage drinking drivers to appoint a sober driver or Person Appointed to Stay Sober (PASS) when drinking.