The Rundown on “No Refusal” Weekends

Plus: How much will a DUI raise your insurance rates in your state?

woman taking sobriety test on no refusal weekend

The holidays are a hazardous time to be on the roads, and believe us, cops know it. They’re closely monitoring drivers as they leave holiday parties full of cheer and perhaps a bit of booze as well. With roads already in precarious conditions due to winter weather, frenzied shoppers, and holiday travelers, impaired drivers have no place on our roads (and that goes for the rest of the year as well). Thus, the “No Refusal” crackdown.

Here’s what you need to know about No Refusal traffic stop, DUIs, and what a DUI conviction could mean for your insurance rates.

What is No Refusal?

No Refusal weekends are safety initiatives intended to keep drunk drivers off roadways during busy times. During No Refusal weekends, judges are on call to issue warrants for blood tests of suspected drunk drivers who refuse to take a breath or field sobriety test.

Nurses are also on call at jails or designated holding areas during those weekends to facilitate the large number of potential blood draws.

police administer breathalyzer on no refusal weekend

When does No Refusal occur?

No Refusal weekends normally occur around holidays and special events due to the likelihood of high alcohol consumption and road traffic. In fact, No Refusal is often implemented before and after holidays, too, depending on historical forecasting of DUIs. For example, for heavy drinking-and-driving days such as the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve, law enforcement may set up shop weeks beforehand to deter dangerous behavior on and around the holidays.

Because No Refusal operates within the rule of state law, cities can choose when and how long to implement the initiative without much reason to decrease them in frequency.  

Police may enforce No Refusal weeks before holidays with high rates of DUIs.

How is No Refusal different from a normal DUI/DWI scenario?

The main difference is the speed at which the legal process occurs during No Refusal weekends. In a normal DUI situation, a police officer can still seek a warrant for the suspected offender’s blood if he or she refuses a sobriety test and if the officer has probable cause, or reasonable suspicion that the driver is legally drunk (.08 BAC or above in all states). Smelling of alcohol or slurring words can be enough reason to justify a warrant. From there, the suspected offender would be taken to a hospital to have blood drawn. During No Refusal weekends, the judge and nurse are normally on site (at the jail or designated holding area) to streamline the process.

Which states allow the practice of No Refusal?

In all 50 states and Washington, D.C., the legal limit to be considered “under the influence” is .08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, only 30 states allow for the enforcement of No Refusal initiatives and only nine actively conduct them.

Currently only 30 states allow No Refusal enforcement and just 9 states actively conduct them.

Why might someone refuse a breathalyzer test?

Breathalyzers are used to calculate BAC by having a person blow into the mouthpiece of the device, but the way BAC is calculated varies by device. Some breathalyzers use an infrared sensor to measure ethanol molecules in your breath while others use a chemical reaction to determine the concentration of alcohol in your system.

These devices aren’t foolproof because the measurement of alcohol comes from your mouth (and not your blood) so mouth contaminates like smokeless tobacco, asthma inhalers, and mouthwash can lead to a false reading even if you have consumed little to no alcohol. Unfortunately, refusing a sobriety or breath test can lead to a license suspension and a mandatory blood draw by a judge’s order.

What is the easiest way to deal with No Refusal?

Don’t drink and drive. This isn’t rocket science.

Ridesharing, taxis, and designated drivers are all significantly better options than getting behind the wheel when you are intoxicated and risking your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road. Don’t want to spend the money for a taxi or an Uber? The cost of your safe ride home pales in comparison to the costs associated with a drunk driving conviction.

no refusal weekend dui arrests

What are the insurance implications of a DUI/DWI conviction?

Being convicted of a DUI can be financially disastrous as it comes with a laundry list of expenses including:

  • Court and lawyer costs
  • Probation fees
  • Installation of ignition interlock device into which a driver must blow before the vehicle will start

Further, the impact to your auto insurance rate is often immense.

In The Zebra’s own recent State of Auto Insurance Report, we found that a DUI causes an average rate increase of over 80%, and over a 100% increase in 9 states.

How Will One DUI Conviction Impact Your Car Insurance?


State2016 Average Car Insurance Premium2016 Average Car Insurance Premium with One DUI on Record% Increase to Car Insurance Premium
Washington DC$1,575$2,59065%
New Hampshire$1,116$1,87368%
New Jersey$1,746$2,90166%
New Mexico$1,158$1,92867%
New York$1,471$2,62178%
North Carolina$816$3,586339%
North Dakota$1,376$2,05349%
Rhode Island$1,671$3,05583%
South Carolina$1,260$2,05363%
South Dakota$1,212$2,22283%
West Virginia$1,441$2,46371%


Further, since impaired driving violations affect insurance rates for three years after the occurrence in 49 states, drivers could end up paying an extra $1,000 or more each year for their policy. And if you’re a California resident with a DUI conviction, be prepared to pay increased rates for 10 years.