Austin, TX- In a case involving a motorist charged with driving under the influence, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that forcing DWI offenders to submit to bloods tests without obtaining a warrant is unconstitutional. A decision our Texas DWI attorneys see as a victory.
In their decision, which was handed down last week, the appeals court ruled that taking a blood sample without consent is a violation of an individual’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The case before the court centered on the 2012 arrest of David Villarreal who was charged with driving under the influence. The Austin Statesman reported that Villarreal was pulled over for traffic violation but an officer suspected he was intoxicated.
Villarreal refused field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer. The arresting officer, believing Villarreal had at prior DWI convictions, took him to a hospital and had has blood drawn against his will. He was then taken to the hospital and had his blood drawn against his will. Villarreal’s case made it the appeals court after he moved to have the blood alcohol test results suppressed in his criminal trial.
In coming to their decision, the appeals court looked to a U.S. Supreme Court decision from last year in which the court ruled that warrantless blood draws are unconstitutional. In that case, the high court weighed whether “dissipation of alcohol in the blood over time is reason enough for police to call for a blood test without a warrant.” Justices ultimately decided that person’s constitutional rights take precedence over the expediency of an arrest.
Texas Law enforcement agencies routinely hold “no refusal” weekends during holidays and key travel times. In many cases, police have court officials on tap to issue warrants for blood draws, but they don’t always take that extra step to uphold a suspected offenders criminal rights. This appeals court decision means that in the future police cannot force a DWI suspect to submit to a blood test without first getting a warrant.
Texas law allows officers to force DWI suspects to submit to blood tests under extreme circumstances. Motorists who have been convicted of two of more DWIs, convictions for drunken driving with a person younger than the age of 15, and individuals involved in fatal accidents.
The Texas appeals court decision now protects citizens from violations of their civil liberties and further strengthens their Fourth Amendment rights. Even in the light of this decision, the rights of DWI suspects and criminal offenders can be easily violated by law enforcement, knowingly or unknowingly, a person can find themselves in legal hot water.
If you have been charged with a DWI in Texas, you may not realize what penalties you are facing. A conviction carries a minimum jail sentence, anywhere from 3 days to 6 months, and a $2,000 fine. What’s more a DWI conviction in Texas never comes off of your record. There is no look back period in Texas so any DWI counts against you and will have a bearing on the penalties you receive. It doesn’t matter if you were convicted of a DWI 30 years ago. That alone is enough reason to hire one our talented Austin DWI attorneys to work on your defense.