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2012-01-05 digital edition

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2012-01-05 / Front Page

County-Wide No Refusal Weekend Great Success

A “No Refusal Policy” was initiated over the New Year’s weekend in Lee County to help deter driving while intoxicated (DWI), and, if the number of warrants issued under that policy is any indication to the level of success, this first- ever implementation in Lee County was a huge success.

No Refusal Policies have been controversial for years, in that many large cities have been taking the initiative to implement this policy, even though it has not been signed into Texas law. However, there are some indications that it may become law in the State of Texas in the near future.

A No Refusal policy is one where law enforcement officers can pull over drivers for suspicion of drunk driving and request a Breathalyzer test. If the driver refuses, a judge will issue a warrant for a blood test. The Lee County Law Enforcement Center had phlebotomists available last weekend to draw blood if anyone pulled over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated refused a Breathalyzer.

More than 200 agencies took part in last weekend’s program because state-wide enforcement is necessary for the program to be most effective. The Texas District & County Attorney’s Association supports the No Refusal policy, partially because of what they term the “CSI effect”. This is when jurors have a glamorized view of the evidence that is needed to prosecute a DWI case. A blood test is more powerful and believable than a Breathalyzer test if a case goes to a jury trial. Statistics show a full 50% of people arrested on suspicion of drunk driving refuse Breathalyzer tests.

Many DWI suspects also refuse to provide a scientific or chemical sample to law enforcement officers upon request, which leads to significant problems in ensuring that DWI offenders do not have the opportunity to commit the same offense multiple times.

Texas leads the nation in drunk driving fatalities, and would like to pass that title on to another state. That is why Texas, and Lee County, is taking drunk driving offenses seriously. DWI’s are prevalent, damaging, deadly, and entirely preventable.

In Lee County last weekend, there were only two DWI arrests, and no warrants were issued for No Refusal incidents.

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