Aug. 09, 2012 - By Ashlie Rodriguez
Drunk-driving suspects can refuse Breathalyzer tests, but they'll be forced to give blood if a new initiative is passed.
The El Paso District Attorney's office is encouraging law enforcement agencies to adopt the "No Refusal Initiative" as soon as this fall.
At age 11, Virigina Gonzales was thrown through a car window after getting hit by a drunk driver.
Now the Executive Director of Mother Against Drunk Driving in West Texas, she is bothered by the number of drunk driving victims in El Paso who share their stories.
"Its so common now its occurring daily," Gonzales says.
Gonzales is supporting the El Paso District Attorney's "No Refusal Initiative" which would enable law enforcement agencies to have a nurse at the station 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, waiting to draw blood from DWI suspects who refused a Breathalyzer test. Assistant DA Denise Butterworth says suspects will have no choice but to admit guilt, prevent future DWI's.
"The word has gotten out there that's its kind of a game. And the word is to refuse everything. To refuse when the officer asks to conduct the field sobriety test. So what's happening is, we're seeing increased amounts of DWI's," Butterworth said.
Major cities such as Dallas, Houston and San Antonio have already implemented this policy, and criminal defense attorneys fear the trend is encroaching on people's civil rights.
"Look I don't like drunk driving I don't want anyone getting hurt, and that's a perfectly good attitude," criminal defense attorney Mark T. Davis said. "They don't realize what they district attorney is doing and they don't care about these, they're trying to get around our rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure."
Gonzales says in 2012 alone, 70 percent of traffic fatalities in El Paso were drunk driving related, which says will decrease if this initiative is adopted.
"As a city, as a county, something has to happen," Gonzalez.
I asked if this would raises costs for taxpayers, but the DA says its only the blood samples and lab procedures that add up. The idea is if people know they'll have to admit guilt one way or the other, their more likely to undergo a Breathalyzer test, which ends up saving money.