Ector County Starts New Program to Stop Drunk Drivers

Ector County Starts New Program to Stop Drunk Drivers

by Justin Kree

NewsWest 9

ODESSA-  Ector County became a No Refusal County on Wednesday, which makes it harder to fight if you are suspected of drunk driving.

A process that used to take three hours is reduced to only minutes. An on-call judge can sign a search warrant from an iPad and send it back to the officer before they make it to jail with the suspect.

"We can walk into a court room and say very close to the time that we arrested them, that the person's blood had X,Y and Z that leads to intoxication. That presents a clear and present danger on our streets," Ector County District Attorney, Bobby Bland, said.

The program was started up by Ector County Attorney, Dusty Gallivan. He explains that if an officers discretion thinks the pulled over suspect could be drunk, they can type up a warrant in their patrol car and send it to a judge. The judge will verify the information and authorize it. Proof that technology keeps evolving.

"Technology plays a huge part. Before we couldn't do email or electronically signed documents. To get all these agencies working together, it's a big accomplishment and that's why the No Refusal Program works and it will work," Gallivan, said.

The question was raised as to whether or not this No Refusal Program infringes on a person's rights.

"It's something you have to get permission from the courts to do. It is in invasion of privacy, we're not denying that. You have a constitutional right to your body and what's in it to some extent. The officer has to provide probable cause to get a search warrant. It's not unreasonable because a judge reviewed the probable cause and made a determination," Bland said.

County leaders say the ability of getting blood samples quicker will help keep drunk drivers off the street.

"We want drunk drivers to know that in Ector County, Texas, if you go on the road and you get pulled over for DWI, we will get a warrant for your blood. We will then use that blood against you in a court of law," Bland said.

"This is one step in the right direction to making our roads safer," Gallivan said.

Odessa Police started using the No Refusal Program on Wednesday. Other agencies like DPS, Ector County Sheriffs Office and UTPB Police are expected to jump on board very soon.