More States Adopting No Refusal DUI Strategy

Search Warrants Issued When Breath Tests Refused

Man Stopped for DUI
Refusing a Test May No Longer Work. © Getty Images

States and communities across the nation are beginning to crack down on drunk drivers by adopting a 'No Refusal' strategy concerning blood-alcohol concentration testing.

Under the strategy, if a suspected drunk driver refuses to take a breathalyzer test, law enforcement officers can quickly get search warrants from on-call judges to take blood samples to test the driver's blood-alcohol level.

Closing DUI Loopholes

Many drivers stopped for suspected drunk driving refuse to take breathalyzer tests in an effort to avoid being convicted of driving under the influence.

In some states the tactic is used more than others due to loopholes in the existing drunk-driving laws.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) figures, states that have adopted no-refusal programs report more guilty pleas, fewer trials and more DUI convictions.

The use of the no-refusal strategy does not require passing new laws, officials say. It puts into action and streamlines existing due-process legal proceedings to make sure drivers who are legally intoxicated do not avoid the consequences.

Reduces Alcohol-Related Deaths

By December 2010, several states and some individual communities had already adopted no-refusal strategies and reported a reduction of alcohol-related highway deaths to the NHTSA. As the holiday season approached in 2010, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urged all law enforcement agencies across the nation to adopt the no-refusal strategy.

"Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways," said Secretary LaHood in a news release at the time. "I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement officials who have pioneered the 'No Refusal' approach to get drunk drivers off our roads. And I urge other states to adopt this approach to make sure that drunk drivers can’t skirt the law and are held accountable."

Increases DUI Convictions

According to the NHTSA some jurisdictions where the no-refusal strategy has been in effect, alcohol-related traffic deaths have declined dramatically while drunk driving convictions have doubled.

The policy also reduces the percentage of drivers who refuse breath tests. In one Texas county, a prosecutor reported that refusals dropped from around 50% to about 10% after law enforcement began to use no-refusal tactics.

NHTSA has developed a No-Refusal Weekend Toolkit for use by law enforcement agencies and communities to help organize their efforts.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Traffic Safety Facts: Alcohol-Impaired Driving." 2009.

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