Boone County police say ‘no refusal’ DUI policy is keeping streets safe

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It’s been several months since Boone County law enforcement enacted their 24/7 “no refusal” DUI program. Since the news has gotten out, they’ve already seen a drastic increase in prosecutable cases.

“It’s going exactly like we felt it should go,” said Boone County Sheriff Dave Ernest, describing the recent success of the newly implemented policy. 

Since April 2018, if drivers, suspected of drinking and driving, refuse a breathalyzer test, a warrant is issued to draw blood from the suspect.

So far, several of those warrants have been issued, giving prosecutors solid evidence to try the case.

“We have used the search warrants multiple times and, since the story broke to educate people that this is the process in Boone County, that, in itself, has helped us not have to go through search warrants, since people know we’re not bluffing, that we’re actually going to go through this process,” he said.

Boone County State’s Attorney Tricia Smith says it’s been a relatively smooth and effective process for her office. They’ve even been working on ways to let officers get warrants from inside their squad cars, rather than at the jail.

“I have heard from officers that once they say they may seek a search warrant from a judge, that people are complying and submitting to the breath test at the time, and that saves everybody time and money,” Smith said.

Since the initiative was rolled out, Smith says those pulled over for DUI already know there’s no way around beating the system, and that’s already saving time on traffic stops.

“We really feel that, if you’re drinking here in Boone County and you get stopped, you will be convicted of DUI in these courts,” Smith continued.

Sheriff Ernest hopes his officers will soon be able to utilize all area hospitals when taking suspects to get their blood drawn, but admits it’s been a tough process to get all providers on board.

“I can’t say enough about St. Anthony’s hospital. They have been so cooperative through this whole process. We are still working with other hospitals, trying to get there – and it’s getting better – but it’s an educational process that we all need to work together to make Boone County safe,” Ernest said.

A few other counties in Illinois have implemented the same policy.

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