”No refusal” weekend has evolved into “no refusal” week.
The campaign to deter drunk drivers traditionally runs through the July 4 weekend, but since this year’s holiday falls on a Thursday, County Attorney James Stainton has extended the effort to July 3-7.
Stainton said from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on those days, if a driver is arrested for driving while intoxicated and won’t willingly provide a breath or blood specimen, a warrant will be sought to obtain a sample of blood and test the blood-alcohol concentration.
“We’re trying to bring awareness to the situation,” he said. “You can drink. You can party. Just don’t drive. It’s as simple as it can be.”
This is Stainton’s fifth year to organize the “no refusal” campaign. In previous years the operation ran 24/7, but this year he’s focusing on a five-hour window.
“I ran all the numbers from the first three years, and 90 percent of them were between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.,” he said. “I always get a few naysayers along the way who talk about violating people’s rights, but if you put people in my county at risk by drinking and driving, we’re going to do what we need to do on our end.”
Stainton said Wise County is becoming known for its no refusal weekend, and he hopes that more people will consider the consequences before getting behind the wheel after drinking.
County Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Melton Cude will handle warrant requests, and all blood draws will be conducted at the jail.
Driving while intoxicated is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 180 days in prison and a fine not to exceed $2,000.
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office will monitor activity at Wise County Park and on Lake Bridgeport and boost patrols as needed.
“Normally we put the boat out that weekend,” said Sheriff David Walker, “but we’re just going to monitor it. It looks like the camping population will be down.”
He noted there will also likely be less boat traffic since the lake is 18.26 feet low.
“If it looks like the crowd is getting big, we’ll add people at any time,” he said. “We’ll have the boat in and out, just no set schedule.”
Game wardens will patrol the lake, as always.