3/29/2006Texas: Tarrant County Cops Drawing Blood
Police in Tarrant County, Texas are drawing blood by force from motorists they say have been drinking.
Police in Dalworthington Gardens, Texas have drawn blood from 32 drivers accused of drunk driving in the past six month. The Tarrant County suburb located between Arlington and Fort Worth has given its officers a 20-hour training course that it says allows them to use force to draw blood from any motorist they say might have been drinking. A judge has agreed to remain on-call to approve warrants quickly.
Fort Worth officers also use the threat of force to obtain samples, but they will take suspects to hospitals to have blood drawn by nurses. To date, three innocent men have had their blood drawn.
No motorists have challenged the legality of the Dalworthington Gardens program to date, although it rests on a questionable legal foundation. Section 724.017 of the Texas code requires that, "Only a physician, qualified technician, chemist, registered professional nurse, or licensed vocational nurse may take a blood specimen at the request or order of a peace officer.... 'qualified technician' does not include emergency medical services personnel."
The area has seen an increase in anti-drunk driving actions against even those who were not driving. This month, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents infiltrated thirty-six North Texas bars in a sting program that has arrested 2281 patrons for drinking since August. Many of those arrested posed no threat to the driving public as they were drinking in a hotel bar in which they were staying, they had designated drivers, or they took public transportation. The Commission is funded by the fines levied in such arrests.