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Monday, December 5, 2011

No Refusal DUI Checkpoints

As part of the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, to crack down on drunk and drugged driving during the holiday period, many law enforcement agencies will be conducting sobriety check-points throughout the month of December. In addition to the sobriety check-points, many states and localities will be conducting "No Refusal" weekends.

Every state has what is known as an "Implied Consent Law." As a condition of the privilege to drive, every driver in the US agrees to submit to a test for alcohol if requested by a law enforcement officer. If a driver refuses to submit to a test, their license is automatically suspended from six months to a year.

Many drivers hope, that by refusing to take the test, they will receive a minor administrative suspension rather than a more serious DUI conviction but they don'’t realize that refusing to take the test won't always keep them from being arrested for DUI anyway.

As part of the Implied Consent law, many states have also implemented no-refusal initiatives that allow law enforcement officers obtain a warrant from a judge to conduct a blood test – forcibly if necessary – if they reasonable cause to suspect that a driver is driving drunk.

Many states have begun conducting no-refusal weekend sobriety checks with judges and medical personnel on hand 24 hours a day to obtain a phone warrant for a blood test if a driver refuses to take the breathalyzer exam.

States that are conducting No Refusal or warrant initiatives include: AZ, FL, ID, IL, KS, LA, MO, TX, and UT.

Many other states have the necessary legal authority to conduct No Refusal initiatives including: AK, AL, CA, CO, GA, IN, MD, MI, MS, NC, ND, NE, NJ, OH, OK, PA, SD, VA, WA, WI, and WV.

The State of Texas has been one of the strongest advocates of this program, conducting no-refusal weekends since 2005. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration;

"During a typical No Refusal Weekend in Montgomery County Texas, 12 DWI suspects refused to submit to a breath test and went through the warrant process. Blood tests showed all to be well above the statutory limit. The average blood alcohol concentration among these suspects was .19 ‐ more than twice the legal limit. In Montgomery County, test refusal rates have dropped from 50 percent prior to the program to as low as 10 percent in 2010. Average test results have proven to be substantially higher among those with blood test warrants, at .19 compared to .13 for those who submitted to breath tests. In Montgomery County, conviction rates have increased sharply and dismissals dropped since No Refusal Weekends have been implemented."

Nueces County Texas, where the city of Corpus Christi is located has announced that they will be conducting No-Refusal weekends throughout the rest of the month of December.

To avoid the dangers of driving while impaired, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following tips:

  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;

  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home;

  • If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely;

  • Use your community's sober ride program

  • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don't hesitate to contact your local law enforcement; and

  • And remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. If you know people who are about to drive or ride with someone who is impaired, take the driver's keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

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