DWI cases up on appeal on issue of suppression of evidence
In our last post, we looked briefly at the statutory grounds on which DWI charges may be based here in Texas. As we noted, evidence of chemical testing is often an easier way for prosecutors to prove DWI charges, assuming the chemical testing is reliable. To be reliable, chemical testing must have been done properly and according to established procedure. This includes obtaining warrants where necessary.
Warrants are generally required before police officers conduct a search, which includes taking blood and urine samples. There are some exceptions to this rule, and case law is continuing to develop, but this was the rule given by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. The ruling in that case was that police may not automatically draw blood without a warrant. Warrants may only be forgone in some cases.
As a result of that ruling, law enforcement departments across the country have had to tweak their policies to ensure compliance with the law. At present, there are a number of drunken driving arrests from 2013 here in Texas which are up on appeal in the Texas court system on the issue of suppressing the results of blood alcohol tests for which no warrant was obtained. Such cases are in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and El Paso.
Suppressing evidence is a tool allowed by the courts when evidence is found to have been obtained illegally. A successful motion for suppression of evidence can dramatically change a criminal case, though in many cases it just makes it harder for prosecutors to prove charges. In a future post, we’ll say more about this.
Receive the Trusted Counsel You Deserve