We're about to make our pitch to local LE, and I would like to know what other counties curently employ the practice. As far as I know, Parker, Tarrant, Harris, El Paso, Fort Bend, and Wilson all use blood search warrants, or have at least done a "no-refusal" weekend. Who am I missing?
Collin County had a "no refusal" operation in the days leading up to New Years eve.
We have done one "no refusal weekend" so far in Waller County. It was/is modeled very closely to Harris County (much smaller scale). I put together a little field manual for the troops but LE so far has been the hardest to get on board on this deal...must be that it is something different...(change=bad, mentality)
Scurry County uses blood warrants on all refusals and I love it! We've been doing this for a few years now. At first some in law enforcement were concerned about how it would work, but I haven't heard any complaints since the program was implemented. We were lucky enough to have the cooperation of all our LE agencies, local judges, and hospital ER/lab to make this work. The judges rotate being on call (at home, with a fax machine) and our local hospital staff is trained on the proper way to do the draw. It works great here.
If you have any questions or want some of our forms give me a call at the Scurry Co. DA's office.
Colorado County, Deaf Smith, Tarrant, Travis, Williamson all have had programs in play for a while.
You're going to be wondering what took you so long to try it. Once the first cases start coming--you get to try cases other than DWIs. Its a very liberating experience.
Our commissioners court even paid for a prosecutor to have a cell phone and be available 24 hours a day to help draft a blood search warrant. We try to get law enforcement to seek a blood sample in all felony DWI refusal cases. It has reduced jury trials, sped up dispositions, and increased the likely punishment.
We've been doing it a couple of years. It is great! I particularly enjoy the stories from officers handling smug repeat offenders that complain "You can't do that! My lawyer told me to refuse any test."
Imagine how it would work if every DWI suspect (felony or misdemeanor) was required by statute (as is true in most states) to provide a sample. It would put an end to the misleading claims by defene lawyers that a defendant has a "right" to destroy physical evidence of intoxication. Of course, those lawyers know that the privilege against self incrimination applies to words, not blood. Furthermore, the constitutional protection against an unreasonable search is not violated by a warrantless seizure of blood based upon a probable cause arrest for DWI -- because the delay caused by getting a warrant provides time for the loss of evidence as the body absorbs the alcohol.
In Liberty County, it took a while for me to get officers to do blood search warrants on refusals for felonies. But once they started doing it, they really have gotten into it. Our officers now get blood search warrants on all DWIs if there is a refusal. My judges are getting a bit tired of being jolted out a sound sleep but they are still very cooperative as well. If we could just get the results from the DPS lab back sooner, it would be even better. They are apparently just overwhelmed with the workload. We had a "No Refusal" weekend a couple of weeks before Christmas. We jointly sponsored it with our local MADD chapter. Good results and great PR!
I am trying to put together some No Refusal Weekend here in Brazos County. I'm in the rough planning stage, but I'll keep reading to try and pick up some pointers.
In Colorado County we do a blood test on all refusal cases and have done so for several years using a fill-in-the-blank search warrantr form that has worked really well. There is a backlog of cases awaiting results from the DPS lab, but it is well worth the wait. It is amazing how high the test results are on DWI 3rd cases.
The impending problem is the growing delay at DPS labs. We recently were warned that delays could exceed 6 months to a year.
Gee, all this would go away if the Leg would make breath tests mandatory, right?
The majority of Denton County (DFW metroplex area) agencies do blood warrants, as well. I've asked our cops to do them specifically for:
All felonies (including DWI With Child)
"Total refusals" - Defendant refuses all SFSTs and breath test
Accidents where injuries (which are not serious enough to be SBI and therefore allow for a mandatory draw) occur
Cases where drugs are suspected
We are also planning a No Refusal Weekend for Memorial Day Weekend.
As others have stated, coordination and communication BEFOREHAND with Judges, hospitals, cops, etc. is a necessity.
We (Gregg County) had a no refusal weekend for New Years.
This is my first post on this site....
We have had similar "no refusal" weekends here in Montgomery County, although I admittedly have not been a part of them as I'm on day shift now.
I assume you're being sarcastic. (It's hard to tell with typed dialogue.)
If not, I'd encourage you to spend a weekend with an Intoxilyzer operator to see how it works. Back when I was an Intoxilyzer operator, I came across every inmate trick and con-game known to mankind. You just wouldn't believe how "lawyered-up" and "bar veteran-coached" some of these street drunks can be!
The drunks would routinely pretend to blow really, REALLY hard into the mouthpiece - "I'm trying my best, officer!" - when in reality they were just faking it.
It's like watching your kids try to pull one over on you, and in reality it was pretty funny to watch, except that it was such a waste of your time and resources.
Or - for those *really* experienced DWI frequent flyers - they'll give the first sample and try to watch the readout (or the officer's reaction) to see if they blew over the limit (they almost always do), and then refuse to give the necessary second sample, thereby thwarting the test altogether.
There are no games with blood draws.
Anyhow, good luck to the original poster.
Todd, a marvelous first post. You provide just the kind of timely information that is helpful to prosecutors and law enforcement across the state.
My comment about breath tests was semi-sarcastic. In part because I don't believe the Leg yet has the consensus support to vote for mandatory breath/blood samples in all DWI cases. At this point, though, I do think there is support for expansion of the mandatory breath/blood law for felony DWI's and DWI with Child cases. And that will be my focus next session.
Your observations about faking a breath test are helpful in continuing to push for more resources and laws that require collection of blood samples. But that means we have to do something to address:
(1) the backlog created at crime labs;
(2) the resistance in some hospitals to provide a phlebotomist for drawing the blood sample.
[This message was edited by JB on 01-30-08 at .]
If I'm reading these posts correctly, then the list of cutting-edge counties employing "no refusal" tactics to date includes:
Burleson/Washington (21st DA)
Nolan/Fisher/Mitchell (32nd DA)
Did I miss anyone?
(this has been updated based on subsequent posts; thanks!)
[This message was edited by Shannon Edmonds on 01-20-09 at .]
Collin County will be conducting another no-refusal weekend this weekend to coincide with the Super Bowl. We've lengthened the effective time periods to 7:00 p.m.-5:00 a.m. after consulting with our agencies and the Tarrant County DA's Office. We'll be using a fax/email system to communicate with our judges, and we've streamlined the affidavit so that officers can fill in the blanks and complete it in less than 10 minutes. We anticipate 10-20 blood draws from the participating agencies. It's good to see that other counties are pursuing this type of DWI enforcement. It would be good to see a state-wide no-refusal weekend in the near future.
We're planning one here in Polk County for Memorial Day weekend---although I've already had one of my judges expressing concern about how long it will take DPS to conduct the testing and get us reports. Has anyone who's conducted a no refusal weekend approached DPS about expedited testing? Just wondering.
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