"No Refusal" DWI policy officially enforced throughout EP County

Suspected drunk drivers will now have to give an involuntary blood sample if they refuse a Breathalyzer test.

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso County and city law enforcement announced Tuesday they will be adopting a "No Refusal" policy toward Drinking While Under the Influence offenses. Suspected drunk drivers will now have to give an involuntary blood sample if they refuse a Breathalyzer test.

Officials made the announcement in from the Mothers Against Drunk Driving exhibit, which is meant to leave a lasting message.

It's 2004 in Seminole, Texas and the Lindsey family is about to make their first outing with 31-day-old Yates. Everyone in the pickup, including Tara and Dirk, baby Yates and their 10-year-old Rachel and 6 year-old Madelyn , are seat-belted when a drunk driver, three -times over the legal limit, runs through a stop sign and crashes into the Lindsey truck.

All three children died on impact. They were buried in one coffin, but their memory lives, surfacing every time this Mothers Against Drunk Driving exhibit rolls through West Texas.

This time, it made a stop in El Paso, at the KVIA studios for news conference at which all county and city-wide law enforcement made a formal announcement.

El Paso county and city is now adopting a "No Refusal" policy toward suspected drunk drivers.

Once a potential drunk driver is pulled over, they will have to give a field sobriety test. If they fail, they can take a Breathalyzer test. If they refuse, the police officer will get a search warrant within an hour, and a nurse will draw blood from the suspect. The suspect has no choice.

"We don't want to put fear in them. What we want is responsible drivers in El Paso County," said County Sheriff Deputy Jamie Palacios.

No Refusal is quickly becoming a statewide policy. The DA's office used San Antonio's policy as its model. And after months of coordinating law enforcement agencies, authorities plan on lowering El Paso's record of 3000 drunk driving incidents in 2011.

"As time goes by and the more people are educated and understand the No Refusal policy, I truly believe people will give it a second thought," said Asst. District Attorney Denise Butterworth.

MADD supports "No Refusal" policies because they say drivers are less likely to chance an encounter with police, and therefore, less likely to cause a fatal accident like the one in Seminole.  

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