Two things go hand in hand in Tarrant County: holidays and ‘No Refusal’ crackdowns.
This Labor Day weekend is no exception.
Beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, the Azle Police Department and other participating police agencies will use search warrants to take blood from motorists who are arrested for driving while intoxicated but refuse to take a breath test. The initiative will end at 4 a.m. Monday.
As usual, those arrested and charged with DWI during this time period will have their names and ages published on the DA’s website, www.tarrantda.com.
The Labor Day “No Refusal” operation marks the last holiday to be funded this fiscal year by a $300,430 grant that expanded “No Refusal” holidays in Tarrant County from two holidays to six – plus Super Bowl weekend. Tarrant County officials are seeking to renew the grant for the next fiscal year.
Officials tout the expansion of the county’s “No Refusal” program for making a significant difference in the successful prosecution of DWI cases. From October 2012 until now (the time period of the grant), 81 percent of the misdemeanor DWI cases filed had scientific evidence – blood or breath test results that showed the defendant’s level of intoxication.
Faced with powerful evidence against them, most defendants are choosing to plead guilty to the crime rather than fight it in court. The majority of those who have taken their cases to trial have lost.
“No Refusal programs and the public awareness of their effectiveness have resulted in a decrease in filed cases, a decrease in the number of cases set for jury trial, a decrease in the number of fatalities over the holidays, an increase in the percentage of cases that have scientific evidence, and an increase in the overall conviction rate,” said Assistant District Attorney Richard Alpert. “Those who are paying attention are getting the message that betting they can beat a DWI charge in Tarrant County is a bet they are bound to lose.”
Here’s a look at the numbers:
* Number of misdemeanor DWI cases filed from Oct. 2012 through August 2013: 3825
* Cases with breath test results: 1804
* Cases with blood test results: 1312
* Cases with no scientific evidence: 709
* Number of DWI jury trials this year: 86
* Number of convictions: 69
* Number of acquittals: 17 (almost all acquittals were cases without scientific evidence)