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An offer they cannot refuse

Court will order DUI suspects to give blood samples this weekend

Published: Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 5:00 a.m. CST

As the National Football League hosts its 47th big game this weekend, police in Grundy County are gearing up for their own big event.

This weekend, according to Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland, will be the county’s first-ever “No Refusal” Super Bowl Weekend. On Saturday, Feb. 2, and Sunday, Feb. 3,  police may seek search warrants from a judge to require any motorist suspected of DUI to submit to a blood test.

While preparing for the big weekend, Helland took a page out of the playbook of several other prosecutors’ offices that have used this tool to successfully combat drunk driving and protect the public.

After local law enforcement conducts a traffic stop and completes a DUI arrest, the officer will notify the state’s attorney’s office and request a search warrant if the arrestee refuses to provide a blood or breath sample. Helland will review the probable cause for the stop and arrest and then prepare the necessary documents for obtaining a search warrant for blood.

The arresting officer will swear out an affidavit, and a judge will review the information. If the judge approves a search warrant request, the suspected drunken driver would be legally required to submit to a blood test, which helps ensure prosecutors obtain the scientific evidence needed to more effectively prosecute cases involving impaired driving.

This proactive approach to DUI enforcement is designed to combat the increasing number of repeat suspected drunk driving offenders who refuse chemical testing following a DUI arrest, and to increase the likelihood of conviction.

“'No Refusal' weekends have continually withstood Constitutional challenges in Illinois courts," noted Helland.

As soon as the search warrant is obtained, the suspect will be driven to a medical center, where a phlebotomist will be waiting to administer the blood test. Any DUI suspect who refuses to comply with the search warrant will be charged with obstructing justice, a Class 4 felony punishable up to 3 years in prison.

“So long as this No Refusal weekend deters people from drinking and driving, then I don’t see why anyone would be opposed to it. The bottom line is I would much rather have someone enjoy a Super Bowl party than spend their time planning a funeral because someone made the choice to go out and drink to the point they were impaired and get behind the wheel and kill an innocent member of the public,” Helland said.

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