DUI enforcement to increase during the holidays

The Thanksgiving holiday brought out scores of early holiday shoppers and party revelers for the Arizona-Arizona State football game. With many people on the roads, law enforcement agencies across the state stepped up their drunk driving enforcement activities. With Thanksgiving week being one of the deadliest during the year, it is an annual ritual to increase patrols and DUI checkpoints.

KVOA news in Tucson reported that the Southern Arizona DUI Task Force stopped 257 cars last Friday, with 34 drivers being arrested on suspicion of DUI.

From now through the New Years' holiday, it is expected that law enforcement will have an increased presence on Arizona roads. Motorists should also be aware of "no refusal" strategies; programs geared towards preventing drunk drivers from taking authorities' ability to get important evidence to support a DUI charge.

Why are these strategies used? Under Arizona law, a driver arrested for DUI can choose a blood test instead of a breath or urine test to measure their blood alcohol content (BAC). While blood tests are more accurate than breath tests, it takes a while for the test to be performed. By this time, the driver's BAC can be lower than when they were first arrested (or even under the legal limit); allowing the driver to avoid criminal charges.

Under "no refusal," judges are readily available to issue search warrants so that on-site nurses can take blood samples. A driver cannot refuse a search warrant.

While these strategies are touted for saving lives, they raise important questions about whether such searches are constitutional based on how much information is collected before a warrant is issued.

Source: KVOA.com, DUI task force to crack down over holidays, November 24, 2012; ABC News.com, States turn to "no refusal" policy to fight drunk driving, December 31, 2010

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