Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

St. Louis' "No Refusal Zone" Means Cops Can Get Warrants For Your Blood Faster and Easier

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge There will be blood.
  • There will be blood.

City of St. Louis cops and prosecutors got tired of people exercising their Fourth Amendment right during DWI arrests by refusing to take Breathalyzer tests without a warrant, so they have created a "No Refusal Zone" where the warrants for blood are obtained almost automatically.

The new measures have been enacted because "too many drunken drivers have learned to game the legal system by refusing to cooperate with field-sobriety tests," according to a press release from the Circuit Attorney's Office.

The statement added that the refusal rate is more than 50 percent in the city.

Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce tells Daily RFT that the process is pretty much just like it was before: Once a driver is suspected of being drunk, a cop will collect some facts such as weaving, reeking of alcohol or passing out at a red light, he or she will be arrested for a DWI.

The only difference is that if the driver refuses to take a Breathalyzer test, the warrant process to draw blood will be expedited.

Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce
  • Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce

"If there's probable cause to arrest you for a DWI, that's the amount of probable cause for a Breathalyzer, and that's the amount of probable cause required for a search warrant," Joyce says.

She adds: "What the search warrant procedure does is it gets a judge right then and there to see if they agree with the police officer, and it gets a prosecutor right then and there to see if they agree with the police officer."

Getting quicker and easier access to blood tests will undoubtedly make it easier to prosecute accused drunk drivers. In addition, prosecutors are allowed to bring up the fact that the accused refused to voluntarily take a Breathalyzer test.

"No Refusal" policies are not rare. Many counties across the country enact this strategy around popular drunk-driving times of the year such as Labor Day, Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. But Daily RFT has not found another major American city where "No Refusal" is a permanent policy. We'll update if we do.

See also: Poll: Would You Pork this Pig to Escape a DUI?

People online have been critical of the approach, calling it a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Click on the next page to read some angry tweets about the No Refusal Zone...

Tags: ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 21, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation