I Hate Drunk Driving But A Mandatory Blood Test May Be Going Too Far

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A new law will go into effect this weekend in an Illinois Country, allowing officers to seek e-warrants to forcibly bring suspected drunk drivers to medical clinics for blood draws to determine alcohol content in the blood stream.

Whether this law will continue to operate is unclear, but right now there are no plans from any civil rights groups looking to defend the interest of serial drunk drivers who refuse to comply with the police.

McHenry County

Located halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago, McHenry County is in Illinois on the southern border of Wisconsin. The county is home to over 300,000 people making up over 100,000 households. The current Sheriff is Bill Prim, who was elected in 2014. The county has leaned Republican since 1880, going Democratic only once in history with a vote for Barack Obama in 2008. This time around, Trump took 50% of the vote.

Blood Draws To Start Sunday

Starting on April 15th, 2018, nine police departments in the county will start applying for warrants if a suspected drunk driver refuses the use of a breathalyzer. Officers will use an electronic system to apply for an e-warrant. Working with the state’s attorney’s office, the nine police departments that will start participating in blood draws are Algonquin, Cary, Harvard, Huntley, Johnsburg, Lake in the Hills, McHenry, Spring Grove and Woodstock.

Last week, the county’s Sherriff’s office posted on their Twitter feed a photo of some of the deputies who have received commendation for taking drunk drivers off the road.

According to a post on the official Facebook for the county police,

“A representative from the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorist was there to present them to deputies who have made 25-50 DUI arrests, 51-75 DUI arrests, 76-100 DUI arrests, and 100+ arrests.”

With nine officers in the photo, and all of them receiving awards, that means these men represent somewhere between 225 and over 900 DUI arrests between them all.

State’s Attorney Happy With Policy

Speaking with media, State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said that he wants to see this second step policy because a new normal across the country, not just Illinois.

“The strongest evidence for the prosecution to have when presenting DUI cases is [Blood Alcohol Concentration].”

This is a sensible piece of evidence, because BAC is enshrined in the law. This is from the state’s DMV:

“If your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, you are legally drunk and it is illegal for you to drive. However, if you are driving with a BAC between 0.05% and 0.08%, you may still be cited for a DUI if your behavior suggests you are impaired. This is at the discretion of the officer citing you… Unlike being cited for driving with a BAC of 0.08% or above, BACs between 0.05% and 0.08% do not trigger the statutory summary suspension detailed below; the penalties are instead entirely based on the outcome of the court case.”

That is, the punishment for a driver is heavily dependent on knowing exact BAC.

Right now, if an officer believes that your blood-alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher, or if you refuse the breath test outright, an officer will “immediately suspend your license” and given a receipt that allows you to drive in a limited sense after you are dried out in jail and arraigned.

New Protocol for Drunk Drivers

Right now, officers are unable to force a breathlyzer, and a suspect may refuse as mentioned above. Breath tests are not able to be forced with a warrant, but blood tests are, because a blood test requires less cooperation from the driver. On first glance this sounds strange, but then again all of my blood draws had been between just me and a technician, but I suppose I can see how a person can be held down and forcibly have blood taken.

[SEE ALSO: Kids in backseat text police about drunk driving dad]

If a driver is brought into a clinic and they proceed to fight the medical staff who attempt to draw blood, the driver is eligible for felony charges of obstructing justice.

The reason for the blood test and felony obstruction charges is because regular drunk drivers were able to game the system and always refuse the breath tests, which makes it more difficult for a judge to take away their license. Prosecutors who were not witness to the scene must rely on the descriptions offered by police officers, including slurring of words and trouble walking.

[SEE ALSO: Drunk Airline Pilots]

Last year, the Sherriff’s Office introduced electronic warrants, which will make things less painless for officers looking for fast permission from a judge to bring a drunk driver into a clinic. Even with the e-warrants, it can take about an hour between stopping the driver and finally having his blood drawn, which can change the blood-alcohol content in either direction. So, even with the new blood tests, the outcome won’t be certain.

Perhaps the threat of blood testing is intending to give the police a bigger threat to get a person to submit right then and there to a breath test. Wouldn’t it be easier to revise the law to put more weight on the opinion of the officer instead of demanding proof of high BAC?

Source: The Chicago Times, The Northwest Herald, Illinois DMV

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