12/26/2007Texas: Forced DUI Blood Draws Expand
More Texas jurisdictions are turning to forced blood draws to convict those suspected of DUI.
Jurisdictions within Texas are expanding programs where police use force to draw blood from motorists accused of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Last week, El Paso announced it had joined Harris and Wilson Counties in a "no refusal" program specifically designed to streamline the blood drawing process.
It works as follows. An accused motorist is arrested and taken downtown. While being videotaped, he will be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test with officers specifically avoiding any mention that blood will be taken by force if the often inaccurate breathalyzer test is refused.
During key holiday weekends, a pre-assigned judge who agreed to wait by the phone will approve search warrants created from pre-written templates -- often within just thirty minutes. With warrant in hand, a nurse whose salary is often paid by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) will draw blood while police officers exert the required level of force. In some cases, this use of force can cause permanent damage. Montague, Archer and Clay counties have similar programs except that these departments do away with the nurse and have police officers perform the blood draw themselves, despite a state law banning the practice (view law).
Two of the twelve motorists subjected to the first blood draws in Harris County on Memorial Day weekend this year were later found to have blood alcohol levels below the .08 limit. The program will return on New Year's Eve.