DWI Checkpoint / DWI Roadblock
The definition of a DWI checkpoint or DWI roadblock under Texas law is a specific location at which police officers set up shop to catch drunk drivers.
Are DWI Checkpoints & DWI Roadblocks Legal in Texas?
No. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) states that the Texas interpretation of the U.S. Constitution indicates that DWI roadblocks or checkpoints are illegal.
Instead of checkpoints and roadblocks, Texas law enforcement agencies often use no-refusal weekends to catch drunk drivers.
A no-refusal weekend refers to an established period — often a three-day, holiday weekend commonly associated with drinking and driving — during which the police attempt to catch and arrest as many drunk drivers as possible.
“No-refusal” in this context refers to the override of citizen’s legal right to refuse chemical testing for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in some situations.
During no-refusal weekends, the police will obtain court warrants to take a blood, breath, or urine sample from any suspected drunk driver who refuses to provide a sample upon request. Local jurisdictions provide extra personnel and assistance during this time, to help expedite the process.
Are No-Refusal Weekends Legal in Texas?
Under Texas law, holding a driver’s license means you consent to give a breath, blood, or urine test if law enforcement pulls you over (with reasonable suspicion) and has probable cause to think you were intoxicated. However, you can legally refuse to give a sample, and the officer must respect your decision (unless certain circumstances, such as an accident in which someone has died or will likely die).
During a no-refusal weekend, however, the police typically seek a warrant for every driver who refuses BAC testing to force them to give a sample.
However, even during a no-refusal weekend, the police cannot violate your legal rights. If they do, or if they make any other mistakes in handling your arrest or the subsequent chemical evidence, you may have a valid legal defense.
Reasonable Suspicion & Probable Cause During No-Refusal Weekends
As mentioned above, to make a legal DWI stop, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that you broke the law before pulling your car over. This standard applies even during a no-refusal weekend.
To arrest you or request chemical BAC testing, the police must also establish probable cause that you are legally intoxicated. Typically, an officer will ask you to take a field sobriety test or roadside breathalyzer test to do so.
During no-refusal weekends, the police may compel you to take a BAC test even if they lack reasonable suspicion or probable cause. If you believe this is the case with your arrest, you should consider challenging the legality of your arrest and the validity of any resulting DWI charges.
Even if the prosecutor can demonstrate that the police had reasonable suspicion to stop you and probable cause to place you under arrest, you may have grounds to challenge BAC test results.
Can You Challenge a Texas No-Refusal Weekend Drunk Driving Charge?
If a DWI lawyer can demonstrate that the police violated your legal rights, or if chemical BAC test results were faulty, it could provide a basis for negotiating with the prosecutor for lesser charges or for asking the court to dismiss your case. The most common legal challenges in this situation involve the accuracy of field sobriety testing and the validity of the chemical BAC testing conducted as a result of the traffic stop.
For example, the police must conduct field sobriety testing per the guidelines established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If your arresting officer failed to follow these guidelines, any subsequent evidence obtained may be inadmissible in court.
Likewise, chemical testing for BAC must follow established procedures and protocols. If the testing technician or lab failed to follow these guidelines, you may have legal grounds to challenge the results.
Can a Texas DWI Lawyer Help You?
Talking to a Texas DWI lawyer can help you determine the legality of your drunk driving charges, no matter what circumstances were involved.
At the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg, our breathalyzer and blood test defense lawyer helps clients understand the nature of their charges and explore their options. With more than 30 years of experience in the Texas criminal justice system — including time spent as a felony prosecutor and judge — Randall understands the complexities of these matters and how to build the strongest possible case for your defense.
We offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations for individuals facing Texas DWI charges. Contact us ASAP at 214-696-9253 to schedule your free case evaluation.