Kane County's latest No Refusal DUI enforcement night -- and first held on Super Bowl Sunday -- netted five drunken driving arrests and two offenders who at first refused to submit to chemical testing but later complied after authorities obtained a warrant.
"It was a success in that we got the message out well in advance of that weekend," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Tuesday. "Ideally, we'd like to get zero. Five is five too many. That means people are still drinking and driving. That's a danger to me and everyone else in the county."
Eleven Kane County area police departments, along with two Illinois State Police districts, participated in the event, during which prosecutors were on duty to work directly with police to obtain a search warrant if a motorist under arrest had refused to take a breath or chemical test.
McMahon said this step helps cut the time to obtain the warrant to about an hour instead of three to five hours.
The Aurora Police Department also participated on Feb. 5, and it was that department's first time since then-Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti launched the No Refusal program on Memorial Day weekend in 2008.
"It's important the largest community in Kane County participates in this," McMahon said.
McMahon 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 sobriety test.
An officer's observations of a motorist and field sobriety tests are qualitative evidence in a case; a breath or blood test shows a blood alcohol concentration and is the quantitative evidence. Some repeat DUI offenders refuse breath tests in an effort not to give authorities any evidence, making a conviction more difficult.
McMahon said this recent effort cost his office about $3,000, which included having a phlebotomist on hand and stipends for seven assistant state's attorneys on duty that night. He said the next No Refusal will be on the weekend of St. Patrick's Day in March.
"The idea is to pick a weekend when it has the biggest impact," McMahon said. "For those who don't get the message (not to drink and drive), I want to have a case that we can prosecute successfully."