The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office ended 2009 by joining law enforcement agencies around the county in one of the many “No Refusal” nights that has taken place throughout the year to combat drunk driving and the lives that it takes and destroys.
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As on previous occasions, the Houston Police Department assisted by providing one of their infamous BATmobiles. The vehicles provide two holding cells and a mobile office where officers, nurses and judges have the resources to expedite the process of a mandatory blood draw for suspected drunk drivers who refuse to blow into an Intoxilyzer.
An increased number of agencies participated in the initiative with the DA’s Office. Among them were the Conroe and Houston Police Departments; the Texas Department of Public Safety; Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office; Pct. 1 and Pct. 4 Constable’s Offices and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Many who refuse to blow are familiar with the process of being stopped under suspicion of driving while intoxicated and do so as part of a strategy, assuming they will make it more difficult for prosecutors to prove they were over the legal limit when stopped. They are often surprised to learn a judge and a nurse are on hand, along with a representative of the DA’s office. Not only are uncooperative suspects unable to refuse to have their blood drawn, it occurs quickly enough that the alcohol in their bloodstream has very little time to dissipate.
Assistant District Attorney Tyler Dunman, who was in South Montgomery County, said the effort went “very well” in that part of the county, with 13 DWI arrests, including one mandatory blood draw because the suspect had at least two prior DWI convictions and five blood draws involving search warrants that were executed because the suspects refused to provide breath samples. Five others were arrested after providing breath samples that were over the legal limit.
Just like the Christmas “No Refusal” enforcement effort, the DA’s Office is offering another deterrent to driving drunk in Montgomery County. All suspects charged with DWI during the New Year’s Eve program will have their names posted on the MCDA Twitter page (MontgomeryTXDAO, at web address www.twitter.com)
It was Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam who announced the names would be posted on Twitter. The innovative concept gained attention locally and then nationwide and finally internationally. One major news network even had a Facebook poll for most of the day on Dec. 23 about whether Montgomery County should Twitter the names. They also took live phone calls on the topic, which appeared to be very controversial.
Diepraam said he was surprised by the amount of attention paid to the Twitter aspect of the No Refusal program
While he would rather see the media focus on the support the DA’s Office has given law enforcement and the renewed excitement about policing in Montgomery County, Diepraam said the major reaction to the Twitter announcement was not all bad, “because at least people were talking about DWI at the deadliest time of the year.”
A few people have made their feelings about the Twitter topic known by personally contacting Diepraam. Some were positive and some were negative, but he said it did not really matter.
“I’m not in the business of making people happy,” Diepraam said. “I’m in the prosecution business.”
There were no known fatal automobile accidents in Montgomery County on New Year’s Eve night and New Year’s Day morning.
A list of those arrested for driving while intoxicated will be posted on this website later.