Use Of Search Warrants Gives Prosecutors New Tool To Crack Down On DUI In Allen County

By Jeff Neumeyer

September 5, 2012 Updated Sep 5, 2012 at 6:03 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- People driving drunk in Allen County beware-- authorities have a new way to get you to submit to testing to try and determine your blood alcohol level.

The Allen County Prosecutor's office is now using search warrants to compel testing, to cut down on the number of people who refuse to give a sample.

For years, if people pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence in Allen County refused breathalyzer exams and blood draws, they would forfeit their driver's license for a time, but it hurt the ability of prosecutors to establish an evidence basis to pursue drunk driving charges.

As of this past weekend, if prosecutors can show probable cause to a judge, a search warrant can be obtained to take a suspect to the jail for blood draws performed by jail nurses.

Those who refuse to comply with the search warrant can be tagged with resisting arrest and contempt of court counts.

" And the sanction on a contempt of court proceeding is up to 180 days in jail, and that 180 days you serve every single one of them, there is no good time on a contempt sentence. So, we think that ought to be incentive for everyone to be very cooperative with the search warrant," Prosecutor Karen Richards said.

The sheriff agreed to let his jail nurses do these tests, without charging a fee.

Allen County Council Member Paul Moss was pulled over on suspicion of DUI back in June.

He refused a field sobriety test, and after placing a call to the sheriff, was turned loose.

Karen Richards says the sheriff committed his nurses to this new program months before that case, so she says there is no connection whatsoever.

The reason the enforcement change is just getting off the ground is that the prosecutor's office could never convince a local hospital to provide the testing free of charge.

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