Are you in favor of No Refusal weekends?

Police Officer at DUY CheckpointThe No Refusal program is an enforcement strategy that allows jurisdictions to obtain search warrants for blood samples from suspected impaired drivers who refuse breath tests. The No Refusal program, like sobriety checkpoints, are highly publicized to let the public know their chances of being caught, arrested, and convicted increase during these efforts. Many states will designate specific weekends as No Refusal weekends, while other states will designate every single weekend or even every day as No Refusal.

Prosecuting suspected intoxicated drivers is more difficult when the suspect refuses to submit to a breath test. Breath test refusal is a long‐standing and persistent problem in jurisdictions all over the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in many states, a large proportion of people pulled over for DUIs refuse to take an alcohol breathalyzer test. The latest data shows that the states with the highest refusal rates include:

  • New Hampshire at 81%
  • Massachusetts at 41%
  • Florida at 40%
  • Louisiana at 39%
  • Ohio at 38%

A number of states have implemented No Refusal initiatives to inform the public that refusing a breath test is not a way to evade an impaired driving charge. States that are conducting No Refusal or warrant initiatives include:

  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

Through the No Refusal strategy, law enforcement officers are able to quickly obtain warrants via phone from “on call” judges or magistrates in order to take blood samples from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test.  This enables law enforcement to legally acquire a blood sample from drivers who refuse to give a breath sample and helps ensure prosecutors obtain the scientific evidence needed to effectively pursue cases involving impaired driving.  As soon as the warrant is obtained the suspect is driven to the police station or medical center where a phlebotomist is waiting to administer the blood test.

No Refusal weekends and blood draws are not without controversy. There is currently a case in the U.S. Supreme Court that will determine whether or not police officers need to even obtain a warrant prior to the blood draw. Some states interpret the consent for blood as part of their implied consent laws.

What do you think? Are you in favor of No Refusal weekends?