Search Warrant for your blood is APDs latest tool for DWIs

The Austin American Statesman ran a nice story on APD’s new tool for getting evidence against folks suspected of DWI.

If you are stopped for DWI, and you have a prior conviction within the last 5 years, are in an accident, have two or more prior convictions, had a child in the car, or suspect if you fail the attitude test, the officer can now go to a Magistrate and request a search warrant for your blood.

Suspects’ blood is drawn by a nurse at the Travis County Jail and taken to the Austin police forensic center, where it is tested. Results are quickly sent back to the DWI team and included in information sent to prosecutors.

As of this month, DWI officers have collected blood samples from 54 of more than 1,500 suspected drunken drivers.

Prosecutors say that law enforcement officers must show judges why they think the suspect is drunk, such as whether they smelled of alcohol or were swerving, but that judges almost without exception sign the warrants.

However, prosecutors support the practice and say it will reduce time courts spend on such cases. They say it also will ensure people who are not intoxicated go free.

Now, back to reality, a person is arrested, they are taken to jail and then the blood is drawn. In the best case scenario, the results are not going to be turned over to the defense attorney for months. In the mean time, the person that was arrested still has to hire an attorney and go through the system. Folks that are wrongfully arrested for DWI don’t get letter of apology from the police or the prosecutor. I have recently represented two folks that gave blood and the results came back with no alcohol or drugs in their system. They still got arrested, they still went to jail and it was up to me to get the results from the prosecutor and force them to dismiss the case.

I always wonder who is going to have to get stabbed with a needle before the Legislature is going to stand up and say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

We already have a law on the books as to when a person is required to give blood. Transportation Code §724.013 states: Except as provided by Section 724.012(b), a specimen may not be taken if a person refuses to submit to the taking of a specimen designated by a peace officer. Now the Courts have said there is another exception….when a search warrant is issued. I think this is clearly a case of legislating from the bench, but that should be no surprise from the current Court of Criminal Appeals.

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