Another No-Refusal Holiday in Houston

Harris County is preparing for the fourth of July holiday by extending its 'No Refusal' program. Starting tomorrow, drivers who are suspected of being under the influence, and refuse a breathalyzer test, will have blood drawn.

It's been about three years since a grant from TxDOT enabled Harris County to start treating every weekend as a "No Refusal" weekend.

The grant also means that enforcement periods can be extended during certain holidays, like the Fourth of July.

"We have the highest fatality rate in the nation.  And that is such a stat that we should be ashamed about."

Todd Keagle leads the Vehicular Crimes Section of the Harris County District Attorney's office. He says on an average weekend, about 35 people refuse an officer's request to take a breathalyzer exam. Police take them into custody and begin the process of securing a search warrant. Keagle says all the legal requirements to draw blood are usually met within an hour or two.

"The case law that is on point right now says we basically have up to six hours from the time of the stop to the time of the blood draw for that to still be accurate."

Keagle says the number of DWI arrests in Harris County has roughly stayed the same since "No Refusal" became a part of every weekend, and most holiday periods.

"But we've also seen an increase in the population. Therefore, when you start doing a per-capita analysis, the numbers are down slightly. But it's still an epidemic in Harris County. And that's why we're going to continue running this program, and do the work we can."

This year's Fourth of July "No Refusal" period covers every night from Wednesday through Sunday.

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David Pitman

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