- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Greene County and Springfield authorities say they are pleased with early results of a new policy that won’t let drivers refuse to take blood alcohol content tests.

Since November, if drivers in the county refuse to take a breathalyzer test, prosecutors can seek a warrant to draw a vial of their blood. If a judge approves, medical staff will draw blood and send it to a crime lab to be tested.

Springfield police and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office are reporting 27 fewer DWI arrests were made and 41 fewer people refused breathalyzer tests compared to the same time last year.

The Springfield News-Leader reports (https://sgfnow.co/1OuyhxR ) that when someone who is suspected of driving drunk refuses a breathalyzer, police can ask prosecutors for a warrant to have a vial of blood drawn by medical staff at the jail or at a hospital.

“It was a mutual goal to be tough on DWIs and ensure that we have the best case going forward for prosecution,” Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott said. “We are hoping that there is a deterrent there and they understand that drunk driving isn’t tolerated in Greene County.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Cifaldi started a blood-draw program in Adams County, Illinois, about eight years ago says the blood-draw policy makes sense because defendants do not normally dictate what evidence is collected.

“Why are we allowing the defendants to dictate what evidence is collected at the crime scene?” Cifaldi said. “If you look at it from that premise, it makes sense. We want to get all of the evidence.”

Not everyone is pleased. Defense attorney Adam Woody says the new policy is slowing down the already slow criminal justice system.

According to Woody, some of his clients who had their blood drawn when the policy first started in November still have not received their results.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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