Prickly New Law: Warrantless DWI Blood Tests

Jeff Blackburn, Criminal Defense Attorney
Jeff Blackburn, Criminal Defense Attorney
Trooper Gabriel Medrano, Texas Department of Public Safety PIO
Trooper Gabriel Medrano, Texas Department of Public Safety PIO

Amarillo, TX--It will soon be easier for police to prove that someone is driving under the influence.

Starting September 1st, police officers may order a blood test on DWI suspects without a search warrant. This only if the alleged drunk driver meets the following conditions:

  • Refuses a breathalyzer test at the time of the stop
  • Has been convicted of the crime in the past
  • Is driving with a passenger younger than 15
  • Caused an accident where someone was seriously injured

Currently, police officers may only administer a DWI blood test after securing a search warrant from a judge or magistrate. Amarillo Police say they only draw blood samples on suspects without a warrant if someone dies in an accident they believe was caused by drunk driving.

Still, some area defense attorneys say the new law is stripping people of their constitutional right to privacy.

"I can't imagine a grosser more invasive thing than puncturing your skin to extract a fluid. That's pretty serious," said Jeff Blackburn, criminal defense attorney.

Blackburn says the law is just a ploy to make money and will cause the number of DWI cases to rise. But law enforcement officials say the law's intention is to improve the safety of our roads.

"I think the ultimate goal is of course to reduce the number of DWI's we see on the roads so we don't have to arrest as many as we have," explained Trooper Gabriel Medrano, Texas Department of Public Safety PIO.

Last year, state troopers made more than 750 DWI arrests and gave out nearly 13,000 speeding tickets as part of their Operation CARE--Combined Accident Reduction Effort.