Tennessee and Texas are among the states enforcing “no refusal” DUI checkpoints this labor day weekend. “No refusal” means suspected drunk drivers will be forced to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test, even if they refuse.
These measures, which started Friday in Texas at 10:00 pm and in Tennessee at midnight, will be enforced until Monday at DUI checkpoints – and on the road as part of officers regular duties.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security issued a press release on this weekend’s crackdown, saying, “State troopers will conduct ‘No Refusal’ enforcement in the following counties: Union (Knoxville District); Hamilton and Marion (Chattanooga District); Montgomery (Nashville District); Shelby (Memphis District); Hawkins (Fall Branch District); Smith (Cookeville); Maury (Lawrenceburg); and Hardin County (Jackson District).”
The press release also describes how police coverage will work over the weekend, “In addition to ‘No Refusal’ enforcement, highway patrol personnel will also conduct driver’s license, sobriety and seat belt checkpoints, as well as saturation patrols and bar and tavern checks.”
Due to the disputed constitutionality of police checkpoints, Tennessee state law requires that their locations be publicly announced in advance so that Tennesseans who don’t want to be inconvenienced can adjust their routes. The locations of this weekend’s checkpoints can be found HERE.
Tennessee’s “implied consent” law says that if a driver is lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe they have been driving under the influence, then they must consent to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content.
The legal rationale for this is because an individual “agrees” to drive on Tennessee roads, he or she also implicitly consents to adhere to Tennessee’s chemical testing standards. Under normal circumstances a drive losses their license for a year or two depending on the number or previous offense they have, if they refuse chemical testing.
During “no refusal” scenarios however, chemical tests, usually of the blood, are forcibly given.
In Texas, officers will be enforcing “no refusal” polices state wide but appear to be focusing most of their efforts on Harris County, which tops the list of counties nationwide for the most DWI-related fatalities.
Last Labor Day weekend, Harris County Police made 205 DWI arrests, more than double the number on a typical weekend. This has led Harris County to deploy extra prosecutors this year to assist law enforcement agencies in filing cases against intoxicated drivers.
Forced blood extractions take place off-site at a local jail or hospital. For those who refuse to comply, extraction locations are equipped with tools to strap down suspects while their blood is forcibly taken.
Approval for involuntary blood draws is typically attained via telephone from magistrates who remain on standby throughout the weekend to handle officers’ requests for what amounts to being “search warrants” for a suspect’s blood.
“No refusal” DUI enforcement performed in Georgia last year, involved hustling suspects back to the police station where they were strapped to a table, held down, and had their blood forcibly removed with a syringe.