A no-refusal drunken driving operation that occurred on the eve of Thanksgiving netted 14 DUI arrests in 14 county communities.
Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Tuesday that 17 police agencies participated, including Batavia, Elburn, Geneva, St. Charles, Sugar Grove and the Kane County Sheriff's Office. He said it was the largest number of agencies to participate in a no-refusal operation so far.
No-refusal operations are designed to hinder suspected drunken drivers from refusing to submit a breath test after a DUI arrest. Officers expedite the booking process and work with an assistant state's attorney to obtain a search warrant ordering that they provide a breath or blood sample.
If a suspected drunken driver refuses to submit a breath test after a warrant is obtained, the driver could face additional charges.
The most recent no-refusal operation was from 11 p.m. Nov. 21 to 3 a.m. Nov. 22. Three people initially refused to submit to chemical testing, and two people continued to refuse until they were told by police that a warrant would be obtained. One of those people submitted to chemical testing after a warrant was obtained.
The other person continued to refuse to submit to chemical testing, which resulted in an additional charge of felony obstructing justice.
McMahon said authorities chose to run the no-refusal operation the night before Thanksgiving because national data shows that night has a heavier concentration of drunken drivers. He said the goal of the no-refusal operation is to arrest no one, and no-refusal operations are publicized ahead of time to encourage people to arrange alternative ways to get home.
"I think people are getting the message," McMahon said. "The number of people who are charged with DUIs is going down."
He said he expects the total number of DUI arrests to be lower at the end of this year than last year.
He said he was pleased with the no-refusal operation and more likely will be planned in the future. County authorities have conducted 11 no-refusal operations since the initiative started in 2008. More than 100 impaired drivers have been charged since the operations have been in place.
"The consequences are real," said McMahon, adding the list of consequences ranges from lost employment opportunities to increased insurance rates. "They're all very real costs. In this economy, it magnifies the pressure people are put under."