REFUSAL IS NOT AN OPTION THIS JULY 4TH WEEKEND
ALL IMPAIRED DRIVERS WILL BE TESTED
FREEPORT, TX - To combat the often deadly problem of impaired driving, the Freeport Police Department will be out in force this July 4th weekend cracking down on impaired drivers.
This latest enforcement strategy is one of a series of “No Refusal Weekends.” They are called that because all suspected impaired drivers caught during the enforcement who refuse breath testing will be subject to blood testing for alcohol.
“Impaired driving remains a major public safety threat that still claims thousands of innocent lives on our roadways every year,” said Assistant Chief Gustavo Flores of the Freeport Police Department. “No Refusal Weekends represent one more step in our battle against this danger.”
In Freeport, as well as the rest of America, anyone driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher is considered legally impaired. However, many impaired drivers refuse to submit to BAC testing in an attempt to avoid—or have reduced—the criminal sanctions they could face upon conviction.
No Refusal Weekends are a proven effective strategy that the Bay Area Council On Drugs & Alcohol’s (BACODA) Brazoria County Community Coalition actively supports and promotes.
“No Refusal Weekends increase pubic safety because drivers are aware that they are more likely to be pulled over under the suspicion of being impaired,” said BACODA Coalition Coordinator Courtney Voss. “Normally, an impaired driver can refuse a breath test, but these weekends put more pressure on those drivers to not get behind the wheel because they will be prosecuted.”
Despite “No Refusal Weekends,” BAC test refusals are increasing around the Nation. In a 2008 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report to Congress, Refusal of Intoxication Testing: A Report to Congress, refusal rates ranged from 2.4 percent to 81 percent, with an average refusal rate of 22.4 percent. Texas has a refusal rate of 48 percent.
The “No Refusal Weekend” is designed to address this issue. Police and other law enforcement officials work in coordination with prosecutors and judges to quickly obtain “blood draw warrants” for drivers who refuse BAC testing. With the approval of a judge, anyone suspected of impaired driving who unlawfully refuses to provide a breath sample is subject to blood testing at the scene, a medical facility, or nearest jail facility. The program helps ensure that prosecutors obtain the scientific evidence needed to effectively pursue cases involving impaired driving.
“By partnering with local law enforcement we’re hoping to make no refusal a year-round occurrence; every weekend, every year,” Voss said.
Several cities across the Nation have already adopted year-round no refusal policies, including Corpus Christi and San Antonio.
According to the NHTSA, there were 10,839 alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in the United States in 2009. NHTSA classifies alcohol-impaired-driving crashes as when the driver had a BAC of .08 or higher. At 10 percent of the national fatality rate, Texas leads the nation with 1,120 alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in 2009.
That’s one life lost on Texas roadways every 7 hours and 48 minutes.
“Seventeen people died on Texas roadways in Brazoria County last year due to alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes,” Voss said. “This is completely preventable. And we are going to eliminate that statistic.”
To join Brazoria County Community Coalition or to learn more about their initiatives, visit www.bacoda.org or dial 1-800-510-3111.
BACODA is a non-profit 501(c)3 agency that has provided substance abuse prevention and intervention services for over 35 years. BACODA’s mission is to help individuals, families and communities stop alcohol/drug abuse and addiction. BACODA’s services extend to Southeast Harris, Galveston, Brazoria and Matagorda counties. BACODA is a United Way Agency. For more information, visit www.bacoda.org.