Calcasieu DWI "No Refusal Policy" goes into effect

By Lee Peck - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - While increased DWI checkpoints and roving details have been effective, Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier says they don't always stop impaired drivers from driving through.

"Lots of drivers have managed to drive away because they refuse the drug test. They can pass the breathalyzer with a very low reading, now what that tells the officer is that they are impaired on something other than alcohol which obviously is drugs," said DeRosier.

If you are driving impaired - refusal is no longer an option. This Memorial Day weekend starts the "no refusal policy" in Calcasieu Parish. DeRosier says they're now pulling out all the stops to prove impairment should a driver who appears substantially impaired refuse the blood test.

"What this means is the officer conducting the investigation can prepare an affidavit to a judge for a request of a search warrant for bodily fluids from that particular subject," explained DeRosier.

If the judge is convinced an order will be issued and the next stop is Moss Regional Hospital to draw blood. Officers say they look forward to working with this new tool.

"We have the deputy observations, we have video tape of their field sobriety testing, but his is going to be even more evidence and a stronger case to help combat impaired driving in the parish," said Commander James McGee with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office.

It's been proven to work too. When Rapides Parish put their "no refusal policy" into effect two and half years ago - about 40% of drivers who passed the blow test with a low reading - refused a drug test. Today their refusal rate is below 1%.

"I hope that happens here and what that actually means is that fewer people are going to be driving impaired on prescription medications. The purpose of all this is to save lives, that's what all this is about. We are not interested in putting more people in jail. We are interested in saving lives," said DeRosier.

DeRosier says while other parts of the state are testing the program this holiday weekend, it will be routine procedure here in Calcasieu parish.

And just in case you're wondering all costs of the blood tests will fall on the suspect should they be found guilty.

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