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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ind. Courts - "If drivers refuse a breath test, we’re drawing your blood. And if you refuse that, we’re going to get a warrant. And if you refuse that you’re going to jail."

Rebecca S. Green reports today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

Three more Allen County drivers are cooling their heels in jail after refusing to submit to a court order for a blood draw after being pulled over on suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

On Friday, Allen Superior Court Judges John Surbeck and Fran Gull, as well as Magistrate Samuel Keirns, each had a hearing on a civil charge of indirect contempt of court with different drivers who balked at the court order. Indirect contempt involves obstructing court process or refusing a judge’s order outside the presence of the judge. Direct contempt involves misbehavior within the courtroom or in front of the judge.

In September, Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards announced a shift in how her office handles drunken-driving arrests and suspects who refuse to submit to a certified Breathalyzer test at the jail. Now her office obtains a search warrant from a judge forcing the driver to stick an arm out and get a blood test.

While Indiana law requires anyone who refuses chemical breath tests to have his or her driver’s license suspended for a year, the refusals left prosecutors with little or no evidence to effectively prosecute the case.

The contempt citations bring jail sentences that cannot be reduced by good behavior. Unlike a prison sentence, in which inmates get one day of credit for each day of good behavior, potentially cutting their sentences in half, a person in the jail on the contempt citations serves every day of a sentence. * * *

Richards * * * said she hopes to see the contempt citations drop off as word gets out that the judges are putting people in jail for failing to comply with the court orders.

“If drivers refuse a breath test, we’re drawing your blood,” Richards said. “And if you refuse that, we’re going to get a warrant. And if you refuse that you’re going to jail.

“With every single one, they’ve gotten a jail sentence.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 12, 2013 11:28 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts