The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pushing states to adopt a “no refusal” strategy when it comes to dealing with motorists suspected of drunk driving. As our Chicago car accident lawyers often report, drunk driving is responsible for about one-third of the nation’s fatal traffic accidents.
Somewhere in The United States, someone dies in a drunk driving accident every 45 minutes. Last year, more than 41 percent of fatal Illinois car accidents involved alcohol, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Nationwide, more than 11,000 motorists were killed in accidents with drunk drivers.
As part of its effort to combat drunk driving, the government is pushing states to adopt a “No refusal” strategy, which would allow law enforcement to obtain warrants from “on call” judges in order to take blood samples from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test.
“Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement officials who have pioneered the ‘No Refusal’ approach to get drunk drivers off our roads. And I urge other states to adopt this approach to make sure that drunk drivers can’t skirt the law and are held accountable.”
Many suspects refuse the tests in the hopes of beating the charges at trial. States have used implied consent laws to automatically suspend a driver’s license for a period of time equivalent to a conviction –usually six months or a year for a first offense — in cases where a driver refuses the test. Implied consent means a driver agrees to take the test if requested when he or she is issued a driver’s license.
States with high refusal rates include New Hampshire (81 percent), Massachusetts (41 percent), Florida (40 percent), Louisiana (39 percent) and Ohio (38 percent).
“MADD is proud to support NHTSA, as well as our heroes in law enforcement, in their focus on ‘No Refusals,’ said MADD National President Laura Dean-Mooney. “Working together, we can make our roadways safer and eliminate drunk driving in the U.S.”
Illinois is one of several states that already use the strategy. Other states include Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Utah, Idaho and Arizona. Some states are better than others at more routinely pushing for warrants and mandatory testing in refusal cases.
“When it comes to drunk driving, we cannot afford to have repeat offenders,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “The ‘No Refusal’ strategy helps support prosecutions and improves deterrence, which means fewer drunk drivers on the road. I want to remind everyone this holiday season: if you’re over the limit, you’re under arrest. So please, for safety’s sake, find a designated driver or take a taxi if you are under the influence.”
This year’s holiday drunk driving crackdown includes $7 million in national television and radio advertising and runs from Dec. 15 to Jan. 3.
If you or a family member is the victim of a Chicago accident involving a drunk driver this holiday season, contact Abels & Annes for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.