Court of Appeals Issued Three Rulings on DWI Laws

There is continued fallout from recent Supreme and Texas Court rulings. A Texas court of appeals recently handed down three decisions that will impact future DWI investigations. The court’s rulings clarified how and when blood samples can be used in DWI trials going forward.

Prior to this ruling, Texas had laws on the books that allowed police to take blood samples from DWI suspects in a number of situations without a warrant. Prior to these court rulings, for example, the police could take a blood sample from a DWI suspect when people were injured in a car accident.

This happened in a case from 2011. In that case, the suspect was in a car accident where two victims were sent to the hospital. The police suspected the driver of DWI, but he refused to consent to a breathalyzer or blood test. Using Texas law, the police officer ordered that a blood test be taken, and it showed that his BAC was .276. The problem with the blood draw, however, was that the police did not seek a warrant to take the blood. A magistrate was open and available to provide a warrant, but the police decided instead to just take the blood.

In that case, the blood sample was used to convict the man of DWI. But now the court of appeals is ordering a new trial and declaring the previous law used by police to take warrantless blood draws unlawful.

In two similar cases, convictions were overturned by the court of appeals for a different reason. In both of those cases, police took warrantless blood samples, but relied on different Texas laws. In the past, the police were authorized to take blood samples without a warrant if the suspect’s had two or more DWI convictions in the past. But no longer. The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that a warrant is required to take a blood sample unless an exception to this requirement is present.

Exception to the Warrant Requirement

In the rulings, the court of appeals noted an exception to the warrant requirement that will apply going forward. If the police have a DWI suspect in their custody and are not able to get a warrant, they may be authorized to take a blood sample because blood alcohol content slowly goes away in time. When evidence is in danger of disappearing, the police are allowed to otherwise skirt the warrant requirement of the U.S. Constitution.

These cases are an example of one key aspect to DWI defense. That key aspect is upholding and protecting the rights that are found in the U.S. Constitution. This includes the right to privacy from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to a speedy trial, and others. The best way to defend and uphold these rights is by hiring the right lawyer with the experience your DWI case needs and deserves.

At the Wilder DWI Defense Firm we are dedicated to defending your rights and ensuring you get the best result possible in your case. We can defend those rights because that is what our work as defenders is founded on. If you are being charged with DWI in the Dallas area, contact us.

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