Drivers giving blood under DUI "No Refusal" Policy?

By Evrod Cassimy – bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Ice and snow are not the only concern on Richmond roads. If you get pulled over on suspicion of DUI, you have the right to say no to a breathalyzer. But now there's a nationwide initiative to side-step that right, by forcing you to give blood, instead.

You can call it a DUI crackdown. Government officials are trying to make it easier to prosecute suspected drunk drivers, especially those who say no to a breathalyzer. A no refusal policy is being promoted across the country.

"I think it's a great idea because I know you don't drink and drive and neither do I," said M.A.D.D. spokesperson, Carter Hill.

The no refusal policy would allow police to get a search warrant from on-call judges so they can take blood samples from suspected drunk drivers who refuse breathalyzers.

"If I was stopped by a police officer I'd gladly give him a field sobriety test or a breath test," said Hill.

But still statistics show that one in four drunk driving suspects refuse to take breath tests. We stopped by a local bar to see how people would feel about giving blood samples.

"I'd say probably a bad idea," said Mike Stango. "They could find other stuff in your blood that maybe you don't want them finding!"

"I don't really like needles," said Harkabir Chada. "I would be really leery about having a needle stuck in me by a police officer as opposed to a nurse."

"These aren't new laws or regulations they're efforts to streamline existing procedures while protecting due process to ensure that drunk drivers can't skirt the consequences of their actions," said Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood.

LaHood is promoting the no refusal policy. The nine states using the approach have seen more guilty pleas, fewer trials and more convictions. Here in Virginia, if you refuse a breathalyzer that is a separate crime and you could lose your license, even if the DUI charge is dismissed. There's no word yet if Virginia is going to adopt that "no refusal" policy.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.