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"Blood draw warrants" to help prosecute impaired drivers

11:23 PM, Jun 22, 2012   |    comments
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  • Once the search warrant is approved, the impaired driver will be taken to the hospital for a blood draw.
  • Once the search warrant is approved, the impaired driver will be taken to the hospital for a blood draw.
  • Called "No Refusal Weekend," all suspected impaired drivers caught during the enforcement weekend will be subject to a blood test to determine the alcohol and drug content of their blood.
    

During the July 4th holiday, law enforcement will begin to enforce a new Tennessee law meant to keep impaired drivers off the road.

Called "No Refusal Weekend," all suspected impaired drivers caught during the enforcement weekend will be subject to a blood test to determine the alcohol and drug content of their blood.

"Were going to be running a combination of enforcement efforts through patrols, saturation, and checkpoint activity," said Tennessee Highway Patrol Sergeant Randall Martin.

"The goal is to keep drunk drivers off the road."

According to a press release from the Knox County District Attorney's Office, many impaired drivers refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test in an attempt to avoid the criminal sanctions they could face upon conviction.

"We won't be able to tell the jury what's in their blood, so it's beneficial to a motorist in that way, for them to basically be able to hide evidence from us," said Assistant DA Jamie Carter.

Carter says many drivers seized that opportunity, including repeat DUI offenders.

She says, under the implied consent law, the only consequence for refusing to give a blood sample is a loss of driver's license for one year.

However, this May Governor Bill Haslam signed Public Chapter No. 892 that allows law enforcement to seek search warrants for a blood sample if a person arrested for driving under the influence refuses to provide one.

Under this new law, officers in coordination with prosecutors quickly obtain "blood draw warrants" for drivers who refuse blood alcohol testing with the approval of a Knox County Judicial Commissioner or Judge.

Once the search warrant is approved, the impaired driver will be taken to the hospital for a blood draw.

"Blood alcohol content goes down every hour that we don't get a blood sample," explained Carter. "That's why it's so important that we get one just as soon as we possibly can. We get a more accurate reading of what that person's level was like at the time of the stop."

The week of July 4th will be the first test of the new law.

Sgt. Martin warns drivers to be smart on the road.

"Have a good time, enjoy, celebrate... and be responsible."

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