Thomas and Paulk

No Refusal - DUI Checkpoint Program

Now there’s talk of taking drunk driving enforcement to a whole new level. It’s a program called “no refusal” where if people refuse a breathalyzer, a judge is right there waiting and can order a blood draw. As Fox 13’s Kristin Wright tells us this morning, a couple Florida counties already have the program in place.

Every single day, drunk driving kills and shatters families. By some estimates, it happens every hour. Between October 1 and mid-November, 15 people, that’s epidemic level. 15 lives lost in Hillsborough County alone during that 6-week period.

The strongest advocates against drunk driving say that impaired drivers are getting away with it by refusing to submit to breathalyzers when pulled over. It is their legal right. It’s just a matter of time before they kill someone. A significant number of driver refuse breathalyzers in a number of states.

In Florida, 40% of driver won’t blow. In Louisiana, it’s 39%. Ohio, 38. But in New Hampshire, an extraordinary 81% of drivers refuse. Some states and counties have adopted a “no refusal” strategy. Police can quickly obtain warrants from on-call judges to get blood samples from suspected drunk drivers that refuse to blow. In some instances, judges would be present at DUI checkpoints.

Tampa DUI Defense Attorney Jeff Paulk says that this goes too far.

“It might cause the public to believe that the judges aren’t impartial, but are actively participating in law enforcement.”

Paulk says that “no refusal” is not a guaranteed deterrent. “It might have the opposite effect, in that people are less likely to convict on DUI cases because they think it’s not fair.” The Tampa Bay’s Police Department will be out in full-force New Year’s Eve, and they will ask suspected drunk drivers to blow. Don’t think you're safe just because you don’t see that DUI officer out there. There are plenty of undercover officers out there searching for drunk drivers.