APD expands 'No Refusal' initiative to every weekend

2015 was a deadly year on Austin roads.  There were 102 traffic fatalities -- the highest number since APD started keeping track in 1985.
               
Intoxicated pedestrians and drivers accounted for about 64%.

In response to those shocking statistics, Detective Richard Mabe with the Austin Police Department's DWI Enforcement Unit says they expanded the "No Refusal" initiative in 2016.
               
But this year the department decided to officially make No Refusal a weekly tradition.

Read APD announces No Refusal DWI initiative to run through September

"We ended up sitting down with TXDot and found that we could fund our Friday/Saturday No Refusals with a grant that the department already receives for impaired driving," Mabe said.

Detective Mabe says the 9 pm to 5 am Friday and Saturday No Refusal will run until September.  Then they'll re-evaluate.

A quick refresher on what No Refusal is: Mabe says after an officer pulls someone over and determines they've been driving drunk, the officer will arrest the driver for DWI and ask them for a consensual blood or breath sample.  If the person says "no," APD will ask a judge for a blood search warrant.

Austin-Travis County EMS Division Chief Eric Jakubauskas says specially-trained medics work 8-hour overnight shifts to do the blood-draws.

"We're actually decreasing our call volume and decreasing injured people out there by helping in this process," Jakubauskas said.

The Chief says the new weekly No Refusal won't be a problem for them as far as field staffing and workload.

"In fact, right now as a department we're getting closer and closer to full staff and so medics are looking for the opportunity to get additional training to be able to work more overtime," he said.

Detective Mabe says some other cities do No Refusal 24/7.  But APD's Friday and Saturday No Refusal allows them to put the spotlight on it.

"As opposed to...if we do it all the time...people become complacent.  'That's old hat,'" Mabe said.

Austin Police say during No Refusal this past weekend there were 24 arrests.  5 of those were consensual blood draws. 

"Doing this every weekend, if that's a constant reminder for people that before they go out to plan for a safe way to get home then absolutely I think we need to continue to do that and if we can make our roadway safer then we've accomplished our goal," Mabe said.

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