DWI No-Refusal Program

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Here is a portion of a press release from the Department of Transporation and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. It centers on a new nation-wide strategy to arrest drunk drivers. The program calls for judges to be available at DWI check-points to sign search warrants to allow officers to take blood, breath or urine samples when suspects decline. This is a very aggressive approach and implicates the constitutional rights of the accused “drunk drivers”. You will note that the article cites a high refusal rate in Louisiana (and some other states) as validation that such an aggressive program is needed. I hope you find the article of interest.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today kicked off the annual “Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest” crackdown involving thousands of law enforcement agencies across the nation. Secretary LaHood also highlighted the new “No Refusal” strategy that a number of states are employing to put a stop to drunk driving.

Through the “No Refusal” strategy, law enforcement officers are able to quickly obtain warrants from “on call” judges in order to take blood samples from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test.

“Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways,” said Secretary LaHood. “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.”

According to DOT’s 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 show that the states with the highest refusal rates included New Hampshire at 81 percent; Massachusetts at 41 percent; Florida at 40 percent; Louisiana at 39 percent and Ohio at 38 percent. States that have adopted “No Refusal” programs report more guilty pleas, fewer trials and more convictions.

“MADD is proud to support NHTSA, as well as our heroes in law enforcement, in their focus on ‘No Refusals,’ said MADD National President Laura Dean-Mooney. “Working together, we can make our roadways safer and eliminate drunk driving in the U.S.”

Secretary LaHood was joined for the announcement by NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, MADD President Laura Dean-Mooney, as well as Warren Diepraam, an Assistant District Attorney in Texas who is a leading advocate of the “No Refusal” strategy. Lafourche Parrish Sheriff Craig Webre, who instituted a “No Refusal” policy in Thibodaux, Louisiana, was also on hand to share his experiences. The officials strongly endorsed the “No Refusal” initiative and applauded states already employing this strategy to get drunk drivers off of their roads, including Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Utah, Idaho, and Arizona.

“When it comes to drunk driving, we cannot afford to have repeat offenders,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “The ‘No Refusal’ strategy helps support prosecutions and improves deterrence, which means fewer drunk drivers on the road.”

As you can see from the above bulletin, law enforcement is stepping up efforts to remove drunk drivers from the highways. If you are arrested on any alcohol related charge, please contact Harmon, Smith and Vourvoulias for assistance.

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Categorized as Blog, DUI, DWI

By George Vourvoulias

George is a founding member and managing member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C., a New Orleans law firm. George concentrates his practice in maritime personal injury, construction litigation, personal injury, workers' compensation, medical malpractice, and DUI defense. George Vourvoulias's Google+ Profile