October 2018 was a deadly month on Kootenai County highways. The county averages eight traffic fatalities every year. In October of this year, there were seven fatalities that resulted from six different crashes. Of the seven fatalities, the Idaho State Police believes that five were caused by drivers who were impaired by alcohol, drugs or both.
Thanksgiving No Refusal Weekend
As per a spokesman for the Idaho State Police, driving while drunk, high on drugs or a combination of the two is the leading cause of motor vehicle accident fatalities in Idaho. Now, with federal assistance and help from the Idaho Department of Transportation Office of Public Safety, Kootenai County and various local police departments will be participating in the third No Refusal Weekend in the state’s history.
What’s a No Refusal Weekend?
A no refusal weekend pivots on Idaho’s implied consent law. Idaho’s implied consent law says that by operating a motor vehicle anywhere in the state, a person has impliedly agreed to submit to chemical tests of his or her breath, urine or blood. A law enforcement officer can request that a driver submit to such testing for purposes of determining any amount of alcohol, drugs or any combination thereof in his or her blood.
What most people who submit to breath testing at the station don’t realize is that the detaining officer is merely asking him or her to comply with a simple request to take the test. Idaho law doesn’t require a person to take it, but there will be independent administrative consequences including a one year driver’s license suspension if he or she refuses to take the test. This is supposed to be a harsh suspension with no driving privileges whatsoever for a full year. After the first 30 days, a restricted license might be issued for purposes of work, school and any medical appointments.
DUI Emphasis Patrols
During the weekend after Thanksgiving, 15 extra police officers will be on Kootenai County roads. Their specific mission is to pull over and arrest impaired drivers. During the weekend, if a police officer asks a driver to submit to breath testing, and the driver refuses, officers will ask an on call judge to issue a search warrant for blood testing. Officers who are specifically trained in obtaining blood samples will then draw the sample from the driver. Local law enforcement agencies note that many drivers who refuse breath testing have been through the DUI legal wringer before. They’re more likely to have a blood alcohol content of .08 or more when they’re tested again.