The St. Louis “No Refusal Zone” and Politics

St. Louis City recently set up a highly publicized “No Refusal” Zone for New Year’s Eve. The idea of a No Refusal Zone is that any person arrested for DWI who refuses to voluntarily submit to a chemical test to determine blood alcohol level will then be forced to submit to the test. The person is forced into the test because the arresting police officer and the prosecutor’s office, here the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, will request search warrant from a judge. The search warrant would allow for a search of the person’s body through a forced chemical test, which is usually a blood draw. Some jurisdictions only go through this time intensive process for felony DWI offenders, or when an accident with injuries has occurred. However, St. Charles County has had several highly publicized No Refusal Zones, and it now appears that St. Louis City is following along.

St. Louis City DWI Arrests Small in Number

One of the most interesting pieces of the media coverage of this event in St. Louis City is how few DWI arrests are made in St. Louis City every month. It was surprising to see reports that only 20-25 people are arrested for DWI each month in St. Louis City. In a City of over 300,000 people, with limited public transportation, 81 Cardinals home games, 40 Blues home games, and numerous other large events, one would certainly think that more than 20-25 people each month are driving drunk on City streets. The problem here is not the number of people who are refusing the breath test in St. Louis, the problem is the extremely small number of people who are arrested for DWI in the City.

It is one thing if St. Louis City has decided there are larger problems for the police force to handle. Issues like violent crime and the heroin epidemic run wild in many parts of the City so it would be understandable to focus resources on those issues. A No Refusal Zone on New Years Eve has the look and feel of a publicity stunt more than an actual effort to remove drunk drivers from the roads.

If you have been arrested for DWI and refused the breath test, there is nothing automatic about your pending one year suspension. Contact attorney Jason Korner for information about your case and how to preserve your rights.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “St. Louis Police Impose ‘No Refusal Zone’ for Suspected Drunk Drivers,” Ken Leiser, December 30, 2013.

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