TX Defenders Challenge Blood Evidence In DWI Cases


As more Texas law enforcement agencies join a statewide trend in collecting blood from drunken driving suspects as a way to bolster criminal cases, defense attorneys are developing new strategies aimed at raising doubts among judges and juries about the accuracy and legality of such results, reports the Austin American-Statesman. The attorneys are becoming amateur scientists and chemists, learning in detail about how blood should be drawn and stored and why such issues can alter results.

Before Texas officers can extract the blood of drunken driving suspects, they must pull them over, which requires justification such as seeing a car swerve between lanes or fail to stop at a stop sign. If officers think the driver is intoxicated, state law says that to get a search warrant for blood,they must present their reasons to a judge. Any misstep in that series of events can provide material for a defense, lawyers said. For instance, they have explored issues such as whether officers had cause to arrest a suspect and whether officers gave judges accurate information to obtain search warrants. Lino Graglia, a University of Texas law professor, said that in theory, it should not be easy for defense attorneys to get blood evidence dismissed. He said he is not surprised that they are trying, however. So far, prosecutors and defense attorneys know of only a handful of instances in which defense attorneys got blood alcohol results deemed inadmissible.

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