Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida looks at Louisiana technique to fight drunk driving

WASHINGTON — Florida is among a handful of states looking at a Louisiana sheriff's technique to dramatically cut alcohol-related crashes

Following a shocking rash of such accidents in Lafourche Parish two years ago, Sheriff Craig Webre began using laws already on the books to impose a "no refusal" policy for suspected drunken drivers who declined breath tests. When someone refused to take a Breathalyzer, Webre's deputies sought prompt search warrants from judges to take blood samples and charge suspects if their blood-alcohol exceeded 0.08, the level where impairment is presumed by law in both Louisiana and Florida.

The number of people killed in alcohol-linked crashes in Lafourche Parish fell to 11 in 2009. Drunken driving arrests doubled. This year, five people died in such crashes in the parish.

"The statistics and the lives that have been saved cannot be refuted," Webre said.

Nearly 11,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired crashes in the United States in 2009. Two-thirds of the deaths involved a driver with a blood-alcohol content higher than 0.08.

About one in four drunken driving suspects refuses to take breath tests, the Louisiana Transportation Department said, and law enforcement officials described the approach as a loophole commonly used to avoid prosecution.

"These aren't new laws or regulations," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "They're efforts to streamline existing procedures while protecting due process to ensure that drunk drivers can't skirt the consequences of their actions." LaHood said the department would help states implement the policy in their departments.

New Hampshire has the highest refusal rate at 81 percent. About two in five refuse tests in Florida, Massachusetts, Louisiana and Ohio.

States using the approach report more guilty pleas, fewer trials and more convictions.

Warren Diepraam, an assistant district attorney in Montgomery County, Texas, said nearly half of the suspected drunken drivers refused breath tests before authorities there used the policy. Since starting "no refusal nights," Diepraam said only about 10 percent of people in his county reject being tested.

"We've now gone almost two years in my jurisdiction with no fatalities," Diepraam said.

Florida looks at Louisiana technique to fight drunk driving 12/13/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Philippines forces make gains in city under siege by ISIS-linked militants

    MARAWI, Philippines — Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago.

  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile

    World

    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.