KC sets No-Refusal New Year’s Eve plan

KANE COUNTY—To combat the often deadly problem of drunken driving, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office will collaborate with multiple Kane County municipalities to crack down on impaired driving on New Year’s Eve.

The sixth No-Refusal operation conducted in Kane County will be the first by new State’s Attorney Joseph H. McMahon, the first in Kane County on New Year’s Eve and the first in Kane County since U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called on more states to use the strategy to help diminish drunken driving.

“Drunken driving is an unnecessary hazard on our roadways that often ends with tragic results. As state’s attorney, I have a responsibility not only to prosecute DUI offenders, but also to educate the public not to drive when they drink,” McMahon said.

McMahon said he would not announce which municipalities will be working with Kane County.

“Ideally, we will not have to use this tool. However, those who continue to ignore the personal and public consequences of drinking and driving should know that we are prepared to use all available and lawful resources to combat impaired driving on our roadways,” he said. “It is my hope that throughout the year, people will refrain from drinking and driving. But it is especially important at this time of year when so many friends and family are traveling that our roadways are as safe as possible.”

Through the No-Refusal strategy, law-enforcement officers are able to expedite the normal DUI booking process. With guidance from an assistant state’s attorney, police officers can quickly obtain a search warrant to compel a motorist suspected of DUI to submit to a lawfully requested blood or breath test as required by Illinois’ Implied Consent statute.

Illinois courts have consistently held that there is no right to refuse chemical testing when probable cause exists. Anyone who fails to submit to chemical testing after a search warrant has been obtained might face additional sanctions.

“Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways,” Secretary LaHood said. “I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement officials who have pioneered the No-Refusal approach to get drunk drivers off our roads. And I urge other states to adopt this approach to make sure that drunk drivers can’t skirt the law and are held accountable.”

Secretary LaHood strongly endorsed the No-Refusal initiative and applauded states already employing this strategy to get drunk drivers off of their roads, including Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Utah, Idaho and Arizona.

It is against the law in all U.S. states and the District of Columbia to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

Yet, data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration show that in 2009 nationally, 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, including 753 in December. The agency’s trend data has consistently shown an increase in DUI-related fatalities during the holiday season.

According to NHTSA data, in 2009 in Illinois, alcohol was a factor in 42 percent (381) of the state’s 911 traffic fatalities. Of the total fatalities, 62 deaths were attributed to a driver with a BAC between .01 and .07, 319 deaths were attributed to a driver with a BAC of .08 or greater and 213 deaths were attributed to a driver with a BAC of .15 or greater.