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DWI task force wants forced blood test

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BATON ROUGE- The Governor's DWI Task Force wants law enforcement agencies across the state to forcibly test the blood of suspected drunk drivers who refuse to blow into a breathalyzer.

The task force believes the practice will greatly reduce drunk driving if offenders know there's no way to prevent law enforcement from getting the evidence they need for a conviction. However, the forced blood tests require a considerable amount of coordination between law enforcement, judges, and medical personnel.

In order to forcible draw a suspect's blood, law enforcement must first obtain a warrant from a judge. This could mean waking up the judge in the middle of the night and faxing information back and forth before the warrant is issued.

Then law enforcement must transport the suspect to a willing medical professional who would draw the blood and then transferring it to a refrigerated evidence container for storage.

The process could add hours to an arrest that would normally take much less time. It also requires judges and medical personnel to be willing participants on a regular basis.

The Livingston Parrish Sheriffs Office uses the method regularly, but many other agencies, including ones in East Baton Rouge Parish, have not fully implemented the procedure.

The task force acknowledges that forced blood tests create a logistical burden, so it's looking into provide money to help agencies implement the program.



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