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DWI arrests during "No Refusal" weekends

The Houston area has a problem with drunk driving. Law enforcement agencies, including the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TBAC) and Harris County Sheriff's Office, however are cracking down on impaired driving. This goes beyond alcohol and can include marijuana, prescription medications or other drugs that cause impairment.

Looking back to another extended 2018 weekend, Labor Day, there were 271 reported DWI arrests in Harris County. A "No Refusal" effort meant that anyone who refused to take a breath test was referred for a blood draw. Could there be a similar initiative for the extended New Year's Eve weekend?

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Do not make a mistake - call an Uber, Lyft or Taxi

While there has not been an advertised enforcement effort, it's probable that the holiday weekend will have stepped up impaired driving patrols.

Plan ahead for nights out over the upcoming holiday. An easy option is to designate a driver. If everyone plans to party, then numerous ride hailing services are available. These options are much less costly than a DWI criminal conviction.

Now assume there is no plan and you get behind the wheel assuming you are under the limit. Nothing ruins a night out with friends or family to celebrate the new year as fast as a DWI arrest.

What happens during a DWI arrest

First, there are the flashing lights and fear as the officer walks up to your window. Then, the questions: "Have you been drinking? How much have you had?" and field sobriety tests. Even though these tests are subjective they can provide the basis for arrest and entanglement with the criminal justice system.

Once there is an arrest, a vehicle is usually towed. For loved ones, it becomes a headache to figure out where you are and when you will be released. Getting your vehicle back is the next potential headache. The penalties on the table could include:

  • Jail time
  • Community service
  • Alcohol or drug classes or treatment
  • Stiff civil fines and fees
  • Loss of driving privileges
  • A criminal record

If you drive for a living, they could include loss of a job. The costs can quickly mount into the thousands if not tens of thousands.

Once in custody, the most important call is to an experienced criminal defense attorney. By getting legal counsel right away, you can often limit the damage with a strong defense.

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