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updated: 9/13/2011 5:28 PM

Kane County to hold 'No Refusal' Halloween weekend

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  • Joe McMahon

      Joe McMahon

 
 

Thirty-eight percent of traffic fatalities involve alcohol, but that number jumps to 48 percent on Halloween weekend.

That National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistic is one reason why the Kane County State's Attorney State's Attorney's Office, in conjunction with police, will hold a "No Refusal" weekend Oct. 28 and 29 -- the Friday and Saturday before Halloween.

"Halloween has grown in popularity," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Tuesday. "We want to encourage families and kids to have a good time but to do so in a responsible and safe manner."

The first "No Refusal" weekend in Kane County was held by McMahon's predecessor John Barsanti in May 2008. This will be the second "No Refusal" weekend for McMahons's office since his appointment in late 2010.

The idea was hatched because a lot of drunk drivers, especially repeat offenders, refuse to take breath tests thereby limiting evidence that law enforcement can gather.

Now, prosecutors from McMahon's office will be on duty to go before an on-call judge to get a search warrant for a blood sample. A trained phlebotomist will be on hand to conduct the procedure.

Some drivers refuse even if a warrant is issued. That leaves authorities with a choice of adding more charges, such as felony obstruction of justice, or forcibly taking the blood sample.

In the past, authorities have added the obstruction charges. McMahon said officials will evaluate on a case-by-case basis what to do if a driver refuses.

DuPage County held a "No Refusal" weekend before Labor Day that netted 70 DUI arrests. In six of the arrests, the driver refused to take a breath test so authorities obtained warrants and did a blood draw that same night.

Some attorneys have questioned the constitutionality of forcing someone to submit to a blood sample against their will.

A cynic might write off the "No Refusal" weekend as a vehicle for the county and municipalities to generate revenue via fines.

McMahon said that was not the case.

"Our goal has always been public safety," he said.