— By CHRISTIN COYNE
Those driving drunk in Parker County during New Year’s celebrations are more likely to be caught and successfully prosecuted thanks to a couple local DWI enforcement measures in place for the holiday.
Texas Highway Patrol Sgt. Doug Hart said all DPS troopers in Parker County will be working New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, at least doubling the typical number of troopers on the roadways.
DPS, along with other Parker County law enforcement agencies, will also be participating in a three-day no refusal program organized by the Parker County Attorney’s Office.
County Attorney John Forrest said his office arranged for local law enforcement to participate in a no refusal program with Tarrant County for the first time this holiday season.
Peace officers who stop drivers suspected of being intoxicated, whether by alcohol or drugs, will be able to seek search warrants to obtain a blood sample if the suspects refuse to voluntarily provide a breath or blood sample to determine their blood alcohol-content level.
Four judges in Tarrant County have volunteered their time, particularly overnight, to assist with the no refusal program that Tarrant County organizes.
Though local judges are more than willing to participate, Parker County resources are limited, Forrest said. There are just four magistrates in Parker County who can sign the type of warrant needed to compel a blood draw.
“It made sense to coat-tail with [Tarrant County] this year,” Forrest said.
“Normally, if there is a complete refusal, there may not be the ability to get a search warrant to draw blood,” Forrest said.
Cases where there are only bad driving facts and a blood and breath sample refusal leave prosecutors with limited assets to present in trial, Forrest said.
Hart said troopers typically don’t request a search warrant for a blood sample if a first DWI offense suspect refuses to provide a blood or breath sample, though they do seek warrants on all felony DWI cases when there is a refusal.
However, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, they will be seeking mandatory blood draws on all DWI suspects who refuse to provide a voluntary sample, Hart said.
Law enforcement participating in the first week of the program over the Christmas holiday did not have any refusals, Forrest said.
In addition to participating in the evidence gathering program, Hart said about 10 officers per shift, up from the three to five troopers, will be patroling during the holiday period.
“I hope everybody behaves and if they drink, they stay at home,” Hart said.