Earlier this month, a Texas county and its district attorney were awarded a special achievement award from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association for the county’s No Refusal program. The program, which takes effect on most weekends and common holidays, requires drivers who appear to be under the influence of alcohol to submit to blood samples following a DWI arrest. Police officers work with judges, prosecutors, and medical professionals to obtain search warrants for suspects who refuse to submit to a blood test.
Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam created and implemented the No Refusal program in response to the high rate of drunk driving accident fatalities in the county and in the state of Texas as a whole. The program has served as a model, and has since expanded to about 50 counties in Texas as well as several other states.
Prior to the creation of the program, Montgomery County had one of the highest chemical test refusal rates in the country. Further, Texas had more drunk driving fatalities than any other state.
Since the No Refusal program took effect in Montgomery County, the DWI breath test refusal rate has dropped from 45 percent to about 25 percent. Criminal charges for DWI fatal car accidents have decreased by 70 percent in Montgomery County, and DWI charges as a whole have decreased by about 30 percent.
As a result of those significant drops, Diepraam and Montgomery County received the special achievement award from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. The award marks the first traffic safety award that the state of Texas has received in several years.
Source: The Courier of Montgomery County, “DA’s No Refusal program earns national award,” Oct. 3, 2011