Counties throughout Texas including Fort Worth’s Tarrant County have instituted “No Refusal” holidays where drivers who are suspected of being under the influence do not have the right to refuse a blood sample. The “No Refusal” campaigns are an effort to cut down on the number of drunk driving accidents that occur on the holidays.
A new grant of $300,000 will extend the campaign to include five more holidays each year for a total of seven. New “No Refusal” holidays include Christmas, New Years and the Superbowl. One of the major goals of the campaign is to encourage people to plan ahead. The real power of the program will be if it becomes a significant deterrent.
Over Thanksgiving the “No Refusal” campaign spans November 21st to the 25th. During that time officers arrested 81 people for driving under the influence – a truly startling number. Of those 81 arrested, 49 have been charged with driving while intoxicated. The program is all inclusive. If you’ve been driving erratically, you’re going to be pulled over no matter who you are. Those who have been arrested span all age groups from the youngest at 18 to the oldest at 70 years of age.
The extra grant money is what empowers police officers not to focus on one certain neighborhood or go after only very obviously impaired drivers. Grant money also provides the support necessary to have blood drawn by trained personnel who have to be prepared to process the eighty-something people who are brought in. Training is done through a partnership between Tarrant County College, John Peter Smith Hospital and the district attorney’s office.
The county decided to take the deterrent process to the next level this past holiday. Those who are being charged have their names listed on the district attorney’s website as a way of pointing out to the entire community who was driving while drunk. This is part of a new trend in the law enforcement and courts where embarrassment is being used as a tool for reform. Whether or not embarrassing these offenders will work as a deterrent isn’t clear yet.
Supporters of the grant include 9-year-old drunk driving victim Chilli (Xitcalli) Vasquez who spoke at the press conference where the grant was announced. She said, “Please don’t drink and drive over the holidays because kids could get injured that you don’t know.” The drunk driver who caused the accident which left her paralyzed from the chest down was sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this month. Vasquez and her family have been working to make a difference by endorsing the “No Refusal” campaign.