AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - While Amarillo is the 14th most populous city in Texas, the city is ranked 9th in traffic fatality crash rates.
Through September of this year, the Amarillo Police Department has investigated 434 cases pertaining to alcohol or impaired driving. It's their hope that the new "No Refusal" policy can remove dangerous drivers from the road.
As a joint effort between the city of Amarillo and both counties, the two newly appointed independent magistrates will be on call on weekday evenings and all hours on weekends to respond to alcohol or drug related search warrant requests.
"Police officers have the right to request breath or blood if they pull someone over that they suspect is drunk driving and the driver has the right to refuse that but then the police officer has the right if they have probable cause to request a search warrant for the person's blood," said Amarillo Chief of Police Ed Drain. "So we're going to start doing that because when you have blood evidence that leads to a much stronger case if the case goes to trial."
Walt Weaver, a former felony prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney, who finds the change in policy "unnecessary" wants residents to know that just because someone has been drinking, it is not grounds for a search warrant.
"One of my greatest fears is, I want people to understand that this magistrate is not an employee of the police department," said Weaver. "Just because a police officer wants a search warrant, doesn't mean they're going to get one. This judge has to have an independent fact finding to show there is probable cause sufficient to get a search warrant."
The magistrate will decide whether to grant the search warrant based on the electronic affidavit of the police officer on site.