'No refusal' campaign targets drivers suspected of DUI - WSMV Channel 4

'No refusal' campaign targets drivers suspected of DUI

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV-AP) -

Tennessee law enforcement officials are intensifying their crackdown on drunken driving with the state's first-ever "no refusal" campaign.

So far this year, there have been 2,547 alcohol-related crashes on Tennessee roads.

That's a 7 1/2 percent increase from this time last year.

The "no refusal" measure passed during the recent Legislature and was signed by the governor in May. It allows judges to compel blood tests from people arrested on drunken driving charges.

If someone suspected of driving under the influence refuses a breath test, officers can now get a search warrant to force those drivers to take a blood test.

"This was the only area of law where a judge was not permitted to sign a search warrant even if probable cause existed in a case," said Tom Kimball, with the Tennessee District Attorneys Conference.

There will be judges available to sign the warrants around the clock and medical staff on hand to take the blood.

Law enforcement officers have reported an increase in the number of drivers refusing a breath test and taking an implied consent charge. But this law could change that trend.

"The addition of this tool, being able to obtain blood by search warrant, is a valuable tool in the fight against drunk driving," said THP Col. Tracy Trott.

"No refusal" enforcement will take place in selected counties that have experienced increased cases of impaired driving this year, specifically Anderson, Bradley, Davidson, Maury and Warren counties.

"Obviously, what we want to do is extend this to other parts of the state as we move forward. You might call this an experiment in these five counties," said Tennessee Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons.

The campaign coincides with the state's Fourth of July enforcement period, which runs Wednesday through Sunday.

Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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