APD cracking down on impaired driving with 'no-refusal' initiative

The Austin Police Department has taken an unprecedented step to crack down on impaired drivers.

They have kicked off a summer-long "no-refusal" period. The initiative allows officers to get blood search warrants for any DWI suspect who refuses a breath or blood test.

FOX 7 Austin's John Krinjak went one-on-one with APD Detective Jason Day about the impact he hopes the initiative has.

JOHN KRINJAK: How long has no-refusal been a thing with APD, and how effective has it been?

JASON DAY: So we've been doing no-refusal initiatives for quite a while. I would say at least ten years. When we started out, it was just on the holiday weekends. But over the last two years we've been doing it Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Every weekend throughout the year.

JOHN KRINJAK: What spurred the decision to do it? Just seven days a week for the whole summer?

JASON DAY: The summer brings out the good weather. And so, with that good weather, people do tend to drink more. And so we thought that the summer would be a perfect time to kick off this type of extended period.


JOHN KRINJAK: What happens when there's not a no-refusal period if someone refuses that test?

JASON DAY: If they were to refuse on a non-period, that was a not a no-refusal, then that evidence would not be gathered. So, when the case went to court, the jury would be relying on the field sobriety test, and they wouldn't have that bright number that could show that it's over the legal limit. And unfortunately, more and more now, juries are wanting that smoking gun that is real evidence to that. That's one of the reasons that we've increased the amount of no-refusals that we're doing.

JOHN KRINJAK: What have you seen over the last few years in terms of trends?

JASON DAY: Our DWI numbers right now, over 50 percent of the people that are arrested for DWI have been involved in an accident in the last year in Austin. We had, I think, 120 or so traffic fatalities. Just think about a third of those are DWI related and can be avoided.

JOHN KRINJAK: Obviously, officers are on the front lines of this. They see the consequences, firsthand. Unfortunately, they see people killed. They see the families of the victims just from that experience. What would you like people to know? What do you wish people could understand about this?

JASON DAY: The biggest thing to remember about people driving while intoxicated is that it's a choice. And it can affect so many lives. You know, if you were to crash and kill somebody, you know, that person, you know, would lose their life, but their family would lose their loved one. Their friends would lose that person that they care about. That's something you have to live with the rest of your life. Early in my time with DWI enforcement, there was a young lady who had been seriously burned in a crash. She, you know, was a pretty young girl in high school and then had, you know, serious burns all over her face and had to have, you know, transplants and so forth. And so then the rest of her life, you know, she went around, you know, looking as, you know, not what a normal person would look like. And she had to wear that burden on the outside. Not to mention the people that carry that burden on the inside, the things that they've gone through.


JOHN KRINJAK: So you're hoping people will, several steps before all this happens, think about maybe I shouldn't get that third drink. Maybe I should call an Uber or rideshare. Get those wheels turning before we even start to talk about impairment.

JASON DAY: Absolutely. And one of the biggest goals of our no refusals. We want it to be a deterrent. I would be so happy if I never had to arrest another drunk driver because people weren't doing it. But unfortunately, people do. And so we're trying to deter it on the front end and then gain better evidence on the back end, which would hopefully further deter people because they're going to get convicted.