Drunken drivers fresh from forgetting old acquaintances at Kane County New Year's Eve parties may find themselves newly acquainted with local police officers this year.
New Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon is showing his enthusiasm for the "No Refusal" stings begun by his predecessor by having the first such operation on New Year's Eve the county has seen. Former Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti started the program two years ago. Since then, the general feeling is the sting operations have been a success in stopping drunken driving before it even starts during major holidays.
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The program places a judge on call to grant police officers an instant warrant to draw blood from motorists arrested on charges of driving under the influence if they refuse field sobriety tests. Illinois courts have ruled drivers can't refuse a blood draw when police have probable cause to suspect they are drunk. A refusal of the judge's warrant would be subject to a different set of charges.
Kane County last had a No Refusal operation for the Fourth of July. Police arrested a dozen motorists, including three with multiple prior DUI charges, during that crackdown.
The New Year's Eve operation will be the sixth "No Refusal" campaign in the county.
"As state's attorney, I have a responsibility not only to prosecute DUI offenders, but also to educate the public not to drive when they drink," McMahon said in a written statement. "Publicity of past No Refusal operations has been successful in reducing the number of drunken drivers on our roadways."
The No Refusal stings work in conjunction with local law enforcement. However, the communities involved and sections of the road police will be on are not announced beforehand. The idea is to create the feeling that police could be anywhere, so it's not worth the risk to try to drive while intoxicated.
The stings now have the endorsement of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. LaHood recently called on other states to adopt the No Refusal strategy to combat drunken driving. Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Utah, Idaho and Arizona all have similar programs.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration tracks the number of people killed in drunken driving accidents. Such accidents remain the leading cause of death on the nation's roads including annual spikes during the holiday season.