OUI stops in Tenn. will include blood test

Gov. signed law in May which allows LE to obtain quick 'blood draw' warrants if suspect refuses

By News Sentinel staff

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Law enforcement will be implementing a new law that allows them to quickly obtain search warrants to draw blood and determine the alcohol/drug content in a suspected drunken driver's blood.

According to a Knox County District Attorney General's Office news release, in an initiative called a "No Refusal Weekend," the Knoxville Police Department, the Knox County Sheriff's Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be out in force during the week of the Fourth of July cracking down on impaired drivers. All suspected impaired drivers caught during the enforcement period will be subject to a test to determine the alcohol and drug content of their blood, officials said.

According to the district attorney's office, THP troopers will hold their "No Refusal Weekend" from midnight today to 6 a.m. Monday, July 9.

Personnel with the Sheriff' s Office and Police Department will hold their "No Refusal Weekend" from 8 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday, July 9, officials said.

According to the district attorney's office, many impaired drivers refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test in an attempt to avoid the criminal sanctions they could face upon conviction. Under the implied consent law, the only consequence for refusing to give a blood sample is the loss of a driver's license for one year.

On May 9, Gov. Bill Haslam signed Public Chapter No. 892, which allows law enforcement to seek search warrants for a blood sample if a person arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence refuses to provide one, officials said.

According to the district attorney's office, under this new law, officers in coordination with prosecutors quickly obtain "blood draw warrants" for drivers who refuse blood alcohol testing with the approval of a Knox County judicial commissioner or judge. Once the search warrant is approved, the impaired driver will be taken to the hospital for a blood draw, officials said.

Officials said this program helps ensure that prosecutors obtain the scientific evidence needed to effectively pursue cases involving impaired driving.

"Impaired driving remains a major public safety threat that still claims thousands of innocent lives on our roadways every year," District Attorney General Randy Nichols said. "This 'No Refusal Weekend' represents one more step in our fight against impaired driving."

Copyright 2012 Knoxville News-Sentinel

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