In: Drunk Driving Charges, DWI/DUI

Will Denton County Police Soon Obtain DWI Blood Warrants Online?

If a Denton County police officer suspects you of driving while intoxicated (DWI), he or she can ask you to take a blood or breath test. The purpose of such a test is to see whether your blood-alcohol concentration exceeds 0.08 percent, the legal threshold for DWI in Texas. Under Texas law, the officer has your “implied consent” to take such a test. You can refuse, but doing so may result in a suspension of your driver’s license. You are entitled to a hearing on your driver’s license if you request a hearing within 15 days of your arrest.

If you refuse consent the officer must, under normal circumstances, get a warrant from a judge or magistrate before subjecting you to a blood or breath test. After all, such blood tests constitute a “search” subject to the protections of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In 2014 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, relying on a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court issued the previous year, held that “the warrantless, nonconsensual testing of a DWI suspect’s blood does not categorically fall within any recognized exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, nor can it be justified under a general Fourth Amendment balancing test.”

Pilot Program Promises to Speed Up DWI Arrest Times

Getting a warrant is often easier said than done, however. In many rural parts of Texas, there may not be a judge or magistrate available right away, especially for DWI arrests that occur in the middle of the night. Many times an officer must take the accused driver to jail to wait until a magistrate can be found to sign the warrant. Altogether, it is not unusual for a DWI arrest to take upwards of 6 hours from start to finish.

To potentially remedy this situation, law enforcement officials from two cities in Williamson County, Texas, recently received training with a new software program that will allow judges to review and sign DWI blood warrants electronically. According to a report from KXAN-TV in Austin, this new system means an officer can stay at the scene of a DWI stop and get immediate approval for a warrant without having to transport the defendant to jail first and incur a delay of possibly several hours.

KXAN noted that some local DWI defense attorneys questioned how the new system would work in practice. One attorney suggested judges would not “give an electronic warrant the same attention” as a traditional in-person request from an officer.

The report noted that while this is still a pilot program, the new electronic warrant software “should be available for all magistrates in Texas” at some future date.

Currently in is the policy of Flower Mound and Carrollton to get warrants for blood on every DWI arrest were the person does not consent to a breath or blood test.

Protecting Your Constitutional Rights Following a DWI Arrest

As law enforcement incorporates new technology into their work, it is important not to lose sight of every person’s right to constitutional due process. If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI, you have the right to work an experienced Denton County criminal defense attorney who can question all of the evidence presented against you. Call Brent D. Bowen, Attorney at Law, at (940) 222-2488 if you need help fighting a DWI charge today.

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