Police departments in a Chicago-area county are instituting a new policy to effectively ban drivers from refusing to undergo a breathalyzer test.
Beginning April 15, nine jurisdictions in McHenry County will allow officers to obtain a warrant for a blood draw for any DUI suspect that refuses a breathalyzer, according to a statement from the McHenry County State's Attorney's office.
Authorities said Algonquin, Cary, Harvard, Huntley, Johnsburg, Lake in the Hills, McHenry, Spring Grove and Woodstock police will implement the new policy.
In general, officers cannot currently force a driver to submit to breathalyzer testing, according to the state's attorney, who said that many DUI suspects as a result refuse to take a breathalyzer, particularly those who believe their blood alcohol level to be above the legal limit of .08.
Under the new policy, officials said that if a driver refuses a breathalyzer test, a warrant will be sought that, if granted, would allow police to take the suspect to a nearby emergency room where their blood will be drawn and tested.
"This policy will ensure that prosecutors are equipped with the strongest possible evidence in court and, thereby, that all DUI offenders are held accountable," the statement from the McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally reads.
Officials said the policy will be streamlined thanks to an electronic warrant system launched in January 2017 that allows police to create warrant requests, send them to a judge for review, and receive them electronically, all online.
"The days of drunk drivers refusing to blow thinking that they can beat a DUI charge are coming to an end,” Kenneally said in a statement. "This new policy means that we’re going to ensure we have all the evidence we need to successfully prosecute drunk drivers every time."