Another Take on March Madness

March madness takes on a whole new meaning in Harris County this weekend.
Local law enforcement agencies are using the phrase to send the message to drivers that they’re cracking down on drinking and driving. Laurie Johnson has more.

Between the rodeo, spring break and the NCAA basketball tournament, March is a magnet for parties and subsequently for drinking and driving.

Harris County Assistant DA Ryan Patrick says Friday and Saturday nights this month officers will implement what’s known as the No Refusal program.

“What we have in place is a program where when suspected drunk drivers refuse to give a specimen of their breath or their blood, we have a system in place where we have a prosecutor, a nurse and a judge who are all available to write a search warrant, the judge to approve the search warrant if they feel it’s appropriate, and then a nurse to draw the blood.”

In Texas, drivers can refuse the breathalyzer or blood test. But once a warrant is issued right there on the spot, there’s no getting out of it.

“Houston is the deadliest county in the country when it comes to drunk drivers killing other people. And we are trying to get this message to folks that we have to deal with DWIs differently and we have to look at these differently. And we are trying to do everything that we can to make our streets safe and get the folks off the street who don’t need to be drinking and driving.”

National statistics show young people between the ages of 21 and 34 account for almost 40 percent of alcohol-related driving deaths.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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