Commissioner Ray Kelly has announced a set of procedures to compel blood alcohol content testing in a timely fashion if a DWI suspect refuses to be tested. Kelly’s hand was forced by a number of recent high-profile cases – some resulting in pedestrian deaths – in which off-duty police officers showing signs of drunkeness delayed BAC testing for up to seven hours.
The new rules are designed to expedite the process of getting a warrant for involuntary testing, and cut out a number of steps from the previous process.
Previously, a patrol supervisor had to take the suspect to one of six Intoxicated Driver Testing Units in the city to administer a refusal warning, the first step in obtaining a testing warrant. Now, the warning can be administered at the scene of the stop. A required wait at the scene for the arrival of portable breath testing equipment and first stop at the local precinct house on the way to the IDTU location have also been removed from the process.
Another “new rule” requires police to notify the District Attorney’s Office at the earliest time possible to permit a quick application for a warrant. As recently as September, Kelly said he found a seven hour delay in testing insignificant.