Working with all law enforcement agencies throughout the county, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office and the Ellis County and District Attorney’s Office will coordinate a “No Refusal” weekend to target drunk driving from 8 p.m.-4 a.m. March 18, 19 and 20.

“Statistics show that in 2009, Texas had mote than 3,000 traffic fatalities – and an astounding 40 percent of those were due to alcohol impairment,” Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown said. “Nationwide, the percentage is only 32 percent.”

Having received grant funding through the Texas Department of Transportation, the sheriff’s office has already been focusing on DWI enforcement, targeting dates that historically have seen a high incidence of violations. Spring break is included in the program.

“The law requires that a person arrested for DWI provide a sample of the officer’s choice for measurement – either a blood sample or a breath sample,” Brown said, noting that unlawful refusal rates in Texas stand at almost 50 percent. “On ‘No Refusal Weekend,’ however, law enforcement officials will not take no for an answer.”

County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson said prosecutors and judges will be on site at Wayne McCollum Detention Center to process the cases March 18-20.

“The prosecutors will assist the officers with the drafting of the search warrants and the judges will review them immediately,” Wilson said. “If the judge approves the warrant, the suspect’s blood will then be drawn by nurses at the detention center.”

Blood samples will be submitted to the Texas Department of Public Safety for analysis.

The no refusal program ensures that law enforcement officials will be able to obtain scientific evidence in 100 percent of DWI arrests, also ensuring that the innocent are found innocent and the guilty are found guilty.

“For several years, no-refusal programs have been a huge success for DWI enforcement across the state. Ellis County is long overdue for this effort,” Wilson said. “Last year, there were more than 400 DWI cases filed with my office. The citizens of this county deserve to feel safe from dangerous drivers. Hopefully, this is a step in that direction.”

Officials hope the program will prevent people from getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, improving safety in the community. Participating agencies include the police departments from Ennis, Ferris, Garrett, Glenn Heights, Italy, Maypearl, Midlothian, Milford, Ovilla, Palmer, Red Oak and Waxahachie as well as the Texas Department of Public Safety, the sheriff’s office and the county and district attorney’s office. All of these agencies will increase patrols in their jurisdictions during the no refusal period.

“We do not enjoy arresting individuals and bringing them to jail; however, it is part of the job,” Brown said. “But until a person has to go and notify a family about the loss of a loved one because of a DWI, they cannot understand the gravity of driving while intoxicated. As a grandparent, parent and sheriff, I truly urge people to drive responsibly.”