To keep trick-or-treaters safe, the Austin Police Department conducted a No-Refusal Initiative on Halloween night and made more DWI arrests on the holiday than last year.
APD detective Mike Jennings said the department enacts a no-refusal policy on days when the department believes drivers are more likely to drink. When officers want to test the blood alcohol content of a driver, officers must obtain a warrant to take blood or use a breath test if the driver does not give their consent.
A no-refusal initiative is a public announcement made in advance stating APD officers will apply for blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to provide a breath or blood specimen as required by law,
according to an APD press release.
“A lot of it is due to the amount of kids that are walking around and the events that are going on,” Jennings said.
According to the release, 12 arrests of people driving while intoxicated were made last Halloween, and 16 were made this Halloween. Jennings said he was not concerned about the increase in DWI arrests, since the numbers fluctuate year to year depending on various factors.
“This (Halloween) happened to have really good weather,” Jennings said. “There’s a lot to do with the day of the week that it falls on. If you take a Halloween that falls on a weekday, everybody’s got to work the following day, it may not be as busy.”
Jennings said one reason the hours changed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. last year to 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. this year was because of funding. Jennings said if the initiative lasts for one fewer hour, the department can conduct more initiatives throughout the year.
The total number of drivers who gave consent to be tested increased this year from five to nine, according to APD press releases. Jennings said the department has received more consent for blood and breath samples in recent years due to the no-refusal programs.
“People have now come to understand that we have the ability to obtain a search warrant,” Jennings said. “That message is starting to get out there. Your license is not suspended typically for as long a period of time if you provide a consent breath of blood sample.”
Chemistry junior Nina Thomson said she is not as worried about drunk driving in West Campus since she sees more Lyfts and Ubers.
“I would be more worried about people getting on scooters drunk, because most students at UT don’t have cars,” Thomson said.
Business freshman Emma Rodman said she thinks initiatives should also be held on the weekends before and after Halloween, since many students celebrate the holiday on the weekends as well.
“More people go out, and so it’s harder to get an Uber,” Rodman said. “They don’t really think about that when they go out and then make a bad decision.”