The Texas Legislature recently amended the Transportation Code to allow blood samples to be taken by Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). The new rules governing blood draws during a DWI stop will take effect as of September 1, 2013. What could this change mean to those charged with drunk driving?
Old Law vs. New Law
Previously, Texas law only authorized physicians, nurses, specifically trained technicians or chemists to withdraw blood from a suspect in a DWI case. Getting the authorized person to the alleged drunk driver took some amount of time. The new law allows EMTs to perform this task, paving the way for more roadside blood draws.
Many police officers are also trained as EMTs. Additionally, if an ambulance is called to the scene of an accident, an EMT would be present to perform the blood draw.
Conflict at the Federal Level
A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court (Missouri v. McNeely) did not explicitly state that blood draws from DWI suspects were illegal, but left a gray area where the procedure could be unconstitutional. The court stated that police officers could take a blood sample without first obtaining a warrant if “exigent circumstances” were present. However, the justices offered no definition regarding what constitutes an “exigent circumstance,” leaving that decision to lower courts.
Cases involving blood samples are more complicated than a traditional DWI defense. The scientific process involved can add to the confidence the jury gives to the prosecution’s case. Thus, it’s imperative that individuals involved in an alleged DWI seek the help of an attorney who understands the science and procedures involved, as well as the constitutionality of the charge.