Ohio DUI No Refusal Initiative Expands
By: Chris Kramer
On Labor Day weekend, drivers in Westerville, Ohio who were suspected of DUI got a surprise. The Westerville Division of Police partnered with Columbus' No Refusal initiative to have blood tests done on DUI suspects who refuse breath tests, according to This Week News.
Extra police officers were on duty in Westerville over the Labor Day weekend for the city's sesquicentennial celebration. Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said that for this year's celebration the division went to a different police staffing setup in order to have more officers on duty during peak hours.
In addition to having more police officers on the streets, police in Westerville also had the No Refusal initiative as a new tool in their arsenal.
The No Refusal initiative is a relatively new weapon against drunk driving - and arguably civil rights - that is gaining popularity with police departments. If a person suspected of DUI refuses a breath test, the No Refusal initiative allows officers to immediately call and get a search warrant for a blood draw to determine their blood alcohol content.
The search warrants are granted on the spot and anyone refusing to take a breath test is transported to the hospital for a blood draw. There are no hearings or individual considerations given before the search warrants are issued.
Under Ohio DUI law, a person suspected of DUI may refuse to take a breath test. However, that breath test refusal results in an automatic one year suspension of driving privileges.
A person convicted of first offense Ohio DUI with a blood alcohol content of .10 percent or higher may also receive an administrative license suspension for 90 days, a minimum of three consecutive days in jail or a three-day intervention program, a fine ranging from $200 to $1,000 and a court ordered license suspension of 90 days to three years.
Since the Columbus Police Department began its No Refusal initiative, it has been acting as a liaison between its department and other participating police departments. This cooperation between police departments helps streamline the process for the newly participating departments.
Generally, DUI arrests take between two and four hours. Police departments are reluctant to do anything that would slow the process down or create any additional work for themselves. The No Refusal initiative has proven to be quick and easy for them, so they are eager to get on board with it. Since the search warrants for blood draws are not given any individual attention, they are now pretty much part of an assembly-line process in the No Refusal DUI arrests.
The Westerville Division of Police hopes to expand the No Refusal program and keep it operational to ensure that the police get a blood alcohol content reading on any driver that they suspect of DUI, whether it is through a breath test taken under duress or a forced blood draw.