- Associated Press - Monday, June 30, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Police in Eugene plan to assemble a rapid-response team to get warrants for blood tests of suspected drunken drivers who refuse to take breath tests when they get pulled over on Independence Day weekend.

The plan ratchets up the traditional warnings among law enforcement agencies about heightened enforcement over holiday weekends such as the one upcoming.

Two prosecutors, a blood-draw technician and a judge will be on call to help a dozen Eugene officers get blood samples at the hospital, the jail, or on the street, said police spokesman John Hankemeier.

Drivers can refuse to take a breath test, and under Oregon’s implied consent law their licenses are suspended for a year, according to the state website.

Police say an increasing number do, in hopes of avoiding a more serious sanction in court.

Officer Ryan Stone said police can and do require blood tests of drivers in some circumstances, such as when a serious accident occurs, but the broad no-refusal program “is a new concept here.”

The spokesman for the State Police, Lt. Gregg Hastings, said he isn’t aware of any other places in the state making such an effort this weekend.

The strategy has support from Dave Fidanque, executive director of the Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, who said having probable cause and a judge approving a warrant is “the right way to go about it in our view.”

“This has long been a practice police have been permitted to do, but have rarely done in the past,” he told KVAL-TV (http://bit.ly/1pI8mHU). “Quite frankly I think it’s a good thing that police will be using more warrants.”

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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