DWI crackdown goes all month

March 16, 2009 4:54:45 PM PDT
Dozens of suspected drunk drivers are being pulled off the Houston streets in a first of its kind DWI crackdown during March Madness. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

We're learning many of those being hauled to jail are repeat offenders. One couple was even arrested on their wedding night.

Law enforcement used to single out a particular weekend in an effort to crackdown on drunk drivers. This is a more concentrated effort that runs during the remaining weekends of the month of March targeting those impaired drivers who think they can beat the system by refusing to be tested.

When an officer stops and arrests someone for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, if that driver refuses to voluntarily submit a breath or a blood sample, that officer can obtain a warrant authorizing tests for anyone who declines. It's called the no refusal program.

"By doing this program, we want the message to get out to the community, if you are going to drink and drive we are going to find out exactly how intoxicated you are," said Brent Mayr with the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

Since Friday afternoon when the crackdown began:
- 168 DWI charges have been filed in Harris County
- 47 of those were repeat offenders, that's 28% of the cases
- 33 warrants were issued for those who initially refused to voluntarily give a breath or blood sample, that's 20% of the cases

"It's no different than going to a judge and getting a search warrant to go into someone's home to seize drugs or going into someone's home to seize evidence by using a search warrant," Mayr said. "We are just using it to go into someone's body to take their blood."

While some may question whether the program goes too far by possibly violating a person's civil rights, prosecutors maintain what they are doing is perfectly legal.

"It's been upheld by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals as a valid and legal mechanism for determining how much alcohol someone has in their system," Mayr told us.

Testing teams include a prosecutor, a judge to sign the warrant and a nurse to draw the blood are stationed at three locations across the county.

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