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Houston authorities step up DWI enforcement over July 4 holiday

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It seems that every time we celebrate a holiday in Texas, we also see news reports about increased DWI enforcement efforts undertaken by state and local law enforcement agencies. The Fourth of July was definitely no exception to the rule.

In fact, this year's Independence Day saw Texas authorities enforce its "No Refusal" initiative across the state. As part of this initiative, authorities have judges standing by to give them search warrants to obtain blood samples from DWI suspects who refuse to submit to a blood or breath test.

This year's heightened No Refusal enforcement period began last Thursday and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) expects to have enhanced DWI patrols through July 8. Total arrest numbers are not in yet, but if last year's Fourth of July enforcement period is of any indication, DWI arrests will be high this week. Last year, DPS made more than 1,400 DWI arrests during the July 4 enforcement period.

Authorities do seize upon major holidays to increase DWI enforcement. This is because of the high amount of DWI accidents that happen on major holidays each year. However, it is important to remember that the constitutional rights of suspects do not take a holiday, especially on Independence Day.

Although a DWI charge may seem overwhelming, all of the evidence that authorities present against a defendant is subject to scrutiny and challenge in a court of law. This especially includes evidence obtained by chemical testing. It is well known that such tests are not always reliable, and breath-test devices are often incorrectly calibrated. When authorities are conducting an unusually high amount of these tests over a holiday, these calibration problems can only get worse.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Former model is new 'face of drunk driving' impact," Carol Christian, June 27, 2012

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