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No refusal weekend on tap for the county

Search warrants could be sought for motorists suspected of drunk driving

This weekend will be Grundy County’s first “No Refusal” St. Patrick’s Day Weekend.

From today, Friday, March 15, through Monday, March 18, State’s Attorney Jason Helland announced, local law enforcement will be out in full force conducting “no refusal” stops on suspected drunken drivers throughout Grundy County. Police may seek search warrants from a judge to require any motorist suspected of DUI to submit to a chemical test.

That means if you get pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving, you will be given the opportunity to submit to a breath test. If you refuse, a warrant will be secured to take a chemical test to determine your blood-alcohol concentration -- the results of which will be used against you in court.

Helland stressed that No Refusal events are not the same as a roadside safety checkpoint, where police set up a roadblock and pull over every fifth vehicle to check for seat belts, proof of insurance and drunk drivers. On a “No Refusal” night, police patrol the streets like they normally would and the only time the State’s Attorney’s Office gets involved is if a driver refuses a chemical test. 

The “No Refusal” Weekend will not cost the county taxpayers any extra money. Those who refuse to comply with the search warrant will be charged with obstructing justice, a Class 4 felony punishable up to 3 years in prison.

St. Patrick’s Day weekend is one of the most dangerous holidays for drunk driving, according to MADD. Although St. Patrick’s Day should be a holiday of fun, unfortunately it has become a holiday of DUIs as well.

“Holidays can take a tragic turn if people choose to drink and drive,” Helland said. 

Helland is asking adults to designate a sober driver before celebrations begin and to never drive drunk and is reminding motorists to always wear a seat belt, because it is the best defense against a drunk driver.

In addition, if you’re hosting a party, remember that you can be held liable if someone you serve alcohol to becomes involved in a DUI crash.

“The idea is to pick a weekend when it has the biggest impact,” Helland said. “For those who don’t get the message and drive while impaired, I want to have a case that we can prosecute successfully.”

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