Consent Must be Voluntary in DWI Case

One of the cornerstones of our system of justice in the United States is the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Among other things, that amendment gives citizens the guarantee that we will be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.

While this protection has been in place since the country’s founding, it has not always been clear what it means. Over the years the U.S. and Texas courts have developed the law through court decisions that define exactly what the protection of unreasonable searches and seizures mean.

Warrant Requirement

The conclusion these cases have come to is that searching or seizing a person or their possessions is per se unreasonable unless the police have a warrant from a judge. Of course, as is so often the case in the law, there are exceptions to this general rule. But by and large before the police can arrest you, or search your car or home during an investigation, they must first have a warrant.

At this point you may be thinking that the police rarely get a warrant before making an arrest or searching someone. That is because of the exceptions to this general rule, and there are a lot of them. One of those exceptions, and one that most often appears in DWI cases, is voluntary consent.

The voluntary consent exception to the general warrant requirement says that the police are allowed to make a search or seizure when a person consents. This exception can bring up exceptionally sticky issues such as:

  • The consent actually voluntary or forced;
  • The consent given because of the police’s authority and position;
  • The person had the capacity to give consent.

These and other issues are why each DWI consent case must be take fact by fact and examined so that a person’s rights are not violated.

Florida Court of Appeals on Consent

The issue of voluntary consent took center stage in a recent Texas Court of Appeals case. In that case, the DWI suspect was arrested on suspicion of DWI and taken to a local hospital to have her blood drawn after a terrible car accident. It was at this point that the facts of the case were disputed by both the police and the suspect.

While the suspect was in the hospital, the police had reason to believe that the suspect had been drinking and then driving, and sought to have a blood sample taken for examination. The suspect alleged that she never gave consent to have her blood drawn, but the police argued that the consent was voluntary and the issue was argued at trial and appealed during the license suspension phase of the case. Eventually the court of appeals concluded that consent was voluntary, and the license suspension was upheld.

This case shows why it is important for each of us to know and understand our rights under the U.S. and Texas Constitutions. At the Wilder DWI Defense Firm we take each DWI case and examine what rights apply and how to best defend the case under the law. If you have been arrested and charged with DWI in the Dallas or surrounding areas, contact us. We look forward to going over your case with you.

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