‘No refusal’ starts in San Marcos ahead of busy Memorial Day weekend

For the first time in almost a decade, the City of San Marcos welcomes a 'no refusal weekend.' (KXAN Photo)
For the first time in almost a decade, the City of San Marcos welcomes a 'no refusal weekend.' (KXAN Photo)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — With thousands of people planning to spend their weekends grilling and enjoying the water, the city of San Marcos says it will be actively watching for anyone driving intoxicated.

After cancelling the program almost 10 years ago, the city of San Marcos says they will once again take on a “no refusal weekend.”

In San Marcos, floating the river and drinking a beer go hand in hand. “I didn’t know there was another way,” joked Justin Massey, who had just finished his float. “There are a lot of people drinking and having a good time.”

Add a holiday weekend into the mix, and it’s guaranteed to be a very busy few days. “Historically we do see a spike in alcohol related crashes and injuries on these long holiday weekends,” said San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp.

That’s why Stapp says the city has decided to reintroduce the program from May 26 to May 28. “We’ve not participated in ‘no refusal weekends,’ our municipal court judges are part time, but now we have two and we have worked out a system with them that avails them to us for blood search warrants if those are needed,” said Stapp.

Stapp says the judges will be on call all weekend. If an officer suspects a driver has been drinking they can apply for a search warrant to draw blood from anyone who refuses a breath test.

“If you are not driving while intoxicated, you have absolutely nothing to worry about,” said Stapp.

However, as with anything new to some in the community, Stapp says there has been some speaking out against the program.

“If you are chancing it and that’s why you are upset and this is giving law enforcement one more tool to actually catch you, then I would say that’s the wrong reason to be upset because driving while intoxicated is a serious threat to public safety.”

For those waiting on a warrant, Stapp says they will be detained and taken to the jail or police department. He says the wait could be as long as two hours.

“If we get through Monday with no DWI arrests and no alcohol related crashes, it’s been a perfect weekend in terms of this. We don’t want to go out and arrest anyone, we’d rather them not drive intoxicated,” said Stapp.

The San Marcos Police Department does plan on increasing patrols. Stapp says there are two designated officers that will strictly be looking for DWI violations.

If everything goes as planned, the chief says he expects to make a “no refusal weekend” for most holiday weekends in the future.

In January, the city of Austin announced a “no refusal” every weekend through September. Police records show DWI arrests are down six percent this year compared to the same time last year. However, officials point out that while arrests are down, it’s not clear if the number of drunk drivers on the road is also down.

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