Archive for July, 2008

A bold new plan by Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo could have officers packing hypodermic needles.  Now it’s pitting a civil rights group against him.

Acevedo wants trained officers to draw blood from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test. 

“How many people have to die before we realize that we have to be aggressive?  We need to hold people accountable and we need to stop the bloodshed on our highways,” said Acevedo.  “If you’re going to drink and drive, we want to make sure we give our officers the tools to hold that suspect accountable.”

Acevedo wants to train DWI officers to draw blood from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer. 

It’s a proposal similar to what already exists in Williamson County, the difference being a nurse draws the blood in Williamson County, not the police officer. 

“Some folk think we’re going to go on the side of the road and arrest somebody and whip out a needle.  That’s not how it works,” said Acevedo.

Acevedo says trained DWI officers would take the suspect to a secure, clean place, get a search warrant, and only then, draw your blood.

But the Texas Civil Rights Project denounces the chief’s plan, saying it violates civil liberties.

“You’re basically violating somebody’s constitutional rights by going into their body and taking blood,” said Jim Harrington, Director of the Texas Civil Rights Project.  “People who haven’t been to nursing school (or) medical school could cause a lot of problems to the person they’re sticking the needle in to.”

Acevedo says the program would be paid for with a federal grant.  He hopes to have it in place before the end of the year.

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The Columbus Division of Police is following in the footsteps of the successful “No Refusal Weekend” that the Delaware County Sheriff’s office participated in Memorial weekend. This is a first for Columbus Police and it will make this holiday weekend quite different from years past.Starting Thursday, July 3, if you are pulled over by The Columbus Division of Police and suspected of being impaired, you only have two choices, take the breathalyzer test or have a nurse take your blood. Traditionally if someone is pulled over, suspected of driving under the influence, they could refuse the breathalyzer. This holiday weekend, anyone that refuses to take the breathalyzer will be taken to a local hospital. Hospital officials will then draw their blood after the arresting officer has a signed search warrant from an awaiting judge.

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Man gets two DWI charges in 14 hours

A Fayetteville man was charged with driving while impaired last week — twice about 14 hours apart, police say.

Anthony Mangum, 34, of Lake Avenue, was stopped by Fayetteville police at 11:55 p.m. June 25 after Mangum drove his 1993 Mitsubishi onto the curb of Swain Street, near Skibo Road, said Sgt. John Somerindyke.

A breathalyzer test showed his blood-alcohol level was .23 percent. The state’s threshold for being impaired is .08 percent.

Mangum was charged with DWI, and his license was revoked for 30 days, Somerindyke said. Mangum was released after posting a $1,000 bail.

About 2 p.m. Thursday, police received a report about a reckless driver on Santa Fe Drive near the All America Freeway, Somerindyke said.

The driver was Mangum, operating his Mitsubishi, Somerindyke said.

Officers tried to stop the car, but Mangum, not realizing that police were behind him, kept driving, nearly hitting another car head-on, Somerindyke said.

Mangum was stopped at 2:11p.m., Somerindyke said, and officers found an open pint of gin in the car.

He was given a breathalyzer test — again — and registered a blood-alcohol level of .27 percent, Somerindyke said.

Mangum also was driving on a revoked license, Somerindyke said, so police seized his vehicle in accordance with state law.

Mangum was released from the second charge after posting a $500 bail.

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