No-Refusal Halloween weekend

KANE COUNTY—Halloween is best known for spooky costumes and scary pranks. Unfortunately, Halloween also is becoming is one of the deadliest times of the year on roads because of drunken driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To combat the deadly problem of drunken driving, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office will collaborate with Kane County police departments as part of its ongoing effort to make Kane County’s roads the safest in the state.

The seventh ‘No Refusal’ operation conducted in Kane County will be the second conducted on Halloween. In that operation, 11 Fox Valley municipalities, the Kane County Sheriff’s Department and the Illinois State Police netted 14 drunken drivers the weekend of Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2009.

This year, the Halloween ‘No Refusal’ operation will be conducted late Friday, Oct. 28, through early Saturday, Oct. 29, and late Saturday, Oct. 29, through early Sunday, Oct. 30. The operation will be conducted in multiple Kane County jurisdictions.

“This office has a responsibility to prosecute DUI offenders, and to educate the public not to drive when they drink.” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said. “With that in mind, I am only announcing when we will have the No-Refusal operation. I will not say which municipalities will be participating. We want people to enjoy themselves on Halloween weekend, but we want everyone to be able to do it safely. Historically, people tend to ramp up the partying on the weekend nearest Halloween, and that has had deadly consequences. By announcing now that we plan to enhance DUI enforcement the weekend before Halloween, we can help people to plan ahead and make responsible decisions.”

According to NHSTA’s 2009 data—the most recent available—48 percent of all highway fatalities nationwide on Halloween night (6 p.m. Oct. 31, to 5:59 a.m. Nov. 1) in 2009 involved a motorist with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

Halloween that year was during the weekend, and the enhanced enforcement this year also will be during the weekend because Halloween this year falls on a Monday.

The initiative is designed to thwart suspected drunken drivers who refuse to submit to a breath test after an arrest on DUI charges. Through the No-Refusal strategy, law-enforcement officers are able to expedite the DUI booking process. With guidance from an assistant state’s attorney, police officers can quickly obtain a search warrant to compel a DUI suspect 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 could face additional sanctions.

According to NHTSA data, 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.

“We are less motivated by the opportunity to make DUI arrests than we are by the opportunity to make Kane County’s roads safer,” McMahon said. “Publicity of past No-Refusal operations has been successful in reducing the number of drunken drivers on our roadways. We hope that trend continues. Think, ‘No Refusal, No Fatalities.’”