2019 Campaign Report

Rating the States

Child Endangerment

High Court Ruling on Refusals In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed states’ rights to charge suspected drunk driving offenders for refusing an alcohol breath test for which a warrant was not obtained. The Court agreed to this point regarding breath tests but not blood tests, which is why expedited warrants are needed, particularly in cases of impairment caused by drugs other than alcohol. Refusal rates are especially high in some states, such as Florida, where 82% of suspected impaired drivers refuse a chemical test, according to a March 2014 NHTSA Report. • 34 states allow for law enforcement to obtain an expedited warrant for alcohol or drug tests after a refusal. However, not all agencies possess the resources to follow this protocol after refusal. • 33 states require an ignition interlock or criminalize refusals, eliminating the incentive for a suspected drunk driver to refuse a test. About 20 percent of suspected drunk drivers refuse a sobriety test. This impedes efforts to remove drunk drivers and protect the public. Driving is a privilege and not a right and because of this, refusals should be treated the same as a failed sobriety test. Expedited warrants are needed for law enforcement to collect evidence to help prosecute drunk drivers. MADD awards a half star to states that expedite warrants for alcohol tests after a refusal. Another half star is awarded to states that require an ignition interlock for refusing an alcohol test. Driving drunk with a child passenger is a form of child abuse that should be met with additional penalties. MADD recognizes New York’s Leandra’s Law as the nation’s model child endangerment law. MADD awards a half star to states that impose misdemeanor charges for driving drunk with a child passenger. To receive a full star, states must treat this crime as a felony. • 48 states and the District of Columbia have additional penalties for driving drunk with a child passenger • Only seven states treat this crime as a felony. Refusals


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