Clark County’s sheriff said his department will not participate in another “no refusal” OVI checkpoint like the one held Friday because of the amount of negative feedback from the community.
“If this is not a positive event then we need to find another way to do our job and create an environment of public safety, and I’m intending to do that,” Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said.
The Clark County OVI Task Force, made up of 13 area agencies, had 464 drivers go through its first “no refusal” OVI checkpoint Friday at the intersection of U.S. 40 and 68.
“No refusal” means that a magistrate, prosecutor and nurse are readily available to request, sign and carry out a search warrant compelling a blood test from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test.
The new type of OVI checkpoint drew protesters from around the state who warned drivers about the approaching checkpoint.
“It’s a fourth amendment thing,” protester Hans Oak said.
One person who admitted to drinking that night was taken out of the checkpoint line and given a field sobriety test.
He passed and was released.
However, two drivers who tried to avoid the checkpoint by turning off before it, were arrested for OVIs by cruisers in the area. There were five opportunities to turn off before the checkpoint after signs let drivers know it was coming.
One of those drivers agreed to a breathalyzer test and the other, who was suspected of being on drugs, agreed to a blood test.
No search warrants were needed Friday night.
Springfield Police Division Lieutenant Tom Zawata said he does not know if there will be another “no refusal” checkpoint this year, but this first one was done to help educate the public.
“We chose to use it at this checkpoint as a way to make the public aware there is an opportunity and existing ability to attain a search warrant,” Zawata said.
Anita Biles, a health educator with the Clark County Combined Health District, said the idea for the no refusal checkpoint came from the prosecutor’s office. She said they had recently attended a training seminar and presented the idea to the task force.
Meanwhile, Clark County got a decrease in grant money from the federal government for its OVI checkpoints this coming year. It averaged about one a month last year, Biles said, and will only have five more until next October.
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