Picnics with family and friends, ocean getaways, softball games and grilling: they’re all going to be part of the coming Fourth of July three-day weekend. Another annual ritual will also be in evidence, as law enforcement agencies across Oregon do their best to prevent car accidents by cracking down on drunken drivers.
While holiday weekends bring out fun-seekers, they also provide opportunities for some people to become intoxicated at celebrations and then get behind the wheel, putting everyone else in danger.
South of Portland, the Eugene Police Department is joining forces with the Oregon State Police and Springfield police in a unique “No Refusal” effort. The program targets the growing number of drivers who, when pulled over on suspicion of impaired driving, refuse to take Breathalyzer tests.
One police officer said the refusing drivers are typically hoping to avoid the harshest legal repercussions of being convicted of DUII. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about one out of every five drunken driving suspects refuses to take a breath test.
The problem for those who refuse is that in Oregon, police can work with prosecutors and judges to obtain a warrant to do blood testing. That means the suspect can be tested right where they were pulled over by officers or they can be taken to a nearby medical facility or jail for testing.
It’s yet another law enforcement tool in the fight to make our roads safer from impaired drivers. Another tool in that fight: citizens who, with an attorney, pursue compensation from drunk drivers who cause accidents, injuries and fatalities.