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Texas officers need warrant for blood samples in suspected DUIs

The driver's blood alcohol level is a critical piece of evidence for both criminal and civil cases involving drunk driving accidents. Drivers frequently underestimate how intoxicated they are before getting behind the wheel, and even after an accident does occur, the driver may still believe that he or she was not impaired. Determining the blood alcohol level through a Breathalyzer test or blood sample is an objective way to gauge whether the person was sober enough to be driving a car.

On Nov. 26, however, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that officers would not be able to take a blood sample from suspected drunk drivers without a warrant. The 5-4 decision overturned a previous law. According to one of the judges, they found that taking blood samples without consent from suspected drunk drivers violated the drivers' Fourth Amendment rights.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling stemmed from a case where a man had been taken to the hospital and had his blood drawn without his consent. The man's attorney argued that this was a violation of the search and seizure laws.

While it may still be possible for officers to get a warrant for a blood sample going forward, it could make it more difficult to get an accurate blood alcohol level test result because of the time it takes for the warrant to be approved through the system. Even though a lack of proof of an elevated blood alcohol level can make it more difficult to pursue a civil case against a drunk driver, there are still options. A personal injury attorney can help you better understand how the change to the law may affect your case.

Source: Raw Story, "TX law allowing cops to draw blood without warrant deemed unconstitutional by state’s highest court" Scott Kaufman, Nov. 28, 2014

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