Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"No Refusal Weekend" announced in Harris County through the New Year

Harris County will be carrying out another "No Refusal" assault on your rights between now and the New Year's weekend.  Interim Harris County District Attorney Ken Magidson made the announcement on Friday.  Here is the press release issued by the DA's office:

(Houston, TX) – The District Attorney’s “No Refusal” DWI program will be working with area police agencies to enhance enforcement against drunk drivers during weekends and holidays through New Year’s Day, District Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced Friday. 

Warren Diepraam, chief of the DA’s Vehicular Crimes Section, reported that initial figures indicate that the 16-month-old “No Refusal” is a valuable law enforcement and prosecutorial tool in the fight against impaired drivers. 

The program brings together prosecutors, a nurse, a judge and police experts at one facility. They expedite the process of obtaining scientific evidence on DWI suspects as soon as possible. Warrants for breath or blood samples are sought on drivers who refuse requests to voluntarily provide them. 

Prosecutors have prepared about 300 warrants during most major “drinking” holidays since the program was introduced over the 2007 Memorial Day weekend. Initial findings show the program: 

** Provides solid evidence against those who are more impaired than suspects who provide breath samples. The average breath test result is about .13 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), compared to .17 for the average blood test (.08 is the legal limit). 

** Takes the guesswork out of decisions to prosecute. Only 2 percent of the suspects were under the legal limit of .08 and had no other intoxication substance in the blood. So the officers’ decisions to arrest are overwhelmingly supported by scientific evidence, and potentially innocent subjects go free. 

** Increases the rates of motorists consenting to provide breath or blood samples. The statewide refusal rate is about 50 percent. During “No Refusal” program nights, that refusal rate has dropped to as low as 35 percent. When combined with mobile testing units, the refusal rate has dropped to as low as 20 percent. 

I'm particularly amused by the claim that the "No Refusal" program "expedite[s] the process of obtaining scientific evidence on DWI suspects."  Waterboarding and other forms of torture have also proven somewhat effective at obtaining evidence.

The press release also notes that about 50% of citizens arrested on suspicion of DWI exercise their right to refuse the breath test while during a "No Refusal" weekend the refusal rate dips to as low as 20%.

The surest way to avoid being arrested for DWI during one of these assaults on your rights is not to get behind the wheel if you've had anything to drink -- call a cab, call a friend, use a designated driver.  However, if you plan on drinking and driving, please limit your consumption to no more than one alcoholic drink an hour - as the body burns off alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour.

If you do find yourself wrongly accused of DWI, contact my office immediately.

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