APD Sucks Blood And Calls it a Success
Drivers refusing breathalyzer get blood sucked
By Kelsey McNiel,
10:23AM, Wed. Nov. 3, 2010
Though they left their fangs, dashing good looks and sparkly sun-melting skin at home, the Austin Police Department still drew blood this weekend. After refusing a Breathalyzer test, 21 drivers found themselves at jail at the end of the night, with their blood in a nearby vial.
The blood search warrants were used as part of the ‘No Refusal’ Initiative in action across Halloween, and the police hope that they will lead to 21 more DWI convictions.
"The more prosecutions we can get, the more it helps citizens," said Commander Jason Dusterhoff of Highway Enforcement Command. "Anything we can get to get people off the road is good. I’m going to use every single thing at my disposal to make sure those [DWI] numbers go down."
After two years of ‘No Refusal’ Initiatives enforced over holiday weekends, Dusterhoff is confident in the program’s ability to get and keep drunk drivers off the road.
"We have proof that the ‘No Refusal’ works," he said. "[Since the beginning of the program] out of 178 search warrants, 70 percent were twice the legal limit. We’re still getting prosecutions that we wouldn’t have gotten before."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, however, has always questioned the effectiveness of the program.
"Our standard take on ‘No Refusal’ is about whether this the best use of resources," said Dotty Griffith, public education director at the ACLU of Texas headquarters. "Is it so resource-intensive that it ties up officers from finding other drivers who are more intoxicated and could be endangering citizens? Is it a cost-effective and resource-effective initiative?"
APD didn’t have data yet on how many of the 21 blood draws were over the legal limit. Dusterhoff added that Austin’s traffic fatalities are at a 10-year low due to education, enforcement and a changing mentality about whether or not to drive drunk.
"I’ve been out at restaurants during ‘No Refusal’ weekends and people come up to me and say, ‘I’m not driving. I’m taking a cab home,’" Dusterhoff said.