The state of Texas recently enacted a new law that could have major implications for the DWI arrest process. As of September 1, 2013, if requested by a police officer, paramedics are authorized to collect blood specimens at the scene of an accident or arrest for the purpose of detecting intoxicating substances.
Previously, blood draws were conducted by medical personnel with extensive training at a hospital or jail. Now, a paramedic may collect blood to determine the concentration of alcohol or other intoxicating substances in the blood upon the request of a police officer. According to Bexar County district attorney Susan Reed, this new law is meant to give police “more options and more ability to do warrants and do blood draws in relation to DWI.”
Opponents of this new law fear that Texas is moving in the direction of Arizona. Beginning in 1996, Arizona police officers who are also paramedics were permitted to draw the blood of DUI suspects. Now, police in Arizona attend a three-day training program to learn how to draw blood for the purpose of conducting on-the-scene blood draws. There is some debate over the quality and thoroughness of the training these officers receive. Termed “phlebotocops,” these officers are not required to carry a license to draw blood. Under Arizona law, the qualification of the person who conducts a blood draw is not a factor in determining the admissibility of blood analysis results in a DUI case. As a result, police in Arizona have drawn blood while suspects stand by the side of the road or sit in the back of a patrol car. The Arizona Supreme Court has determined that such blood draws are constitutional and constitute a reasonable search, even though many have been harmed in the process.
Many believe that this new law increases police power and is likely to increase the number of DWI arrests in Texas. If you have been arrested for DWI, an experienced San Antonio DWI attorney at the law firm of Joseph P. Appelt can provide the support you need.