A new Texas law allowing police to draw blood from DWI suspects without a judge’s approval is riling defense attorneys, pleasing prosecutors, and has crime labs gearing up for more work, reports the Houston Chronicle. The law, which takes effect Sept. 1, has provoked debate among constitutional experts; some are troubled by the prospect of allowing the state to invade a person’s body on suspicion of a crime.
Police will be allowed to order blood drawn from a person suspected of driving while intoxicated when the suspect is a repeat offender, a passenger died, or in which a child under 15 was a passenger in the vehicle. “The real problem is they’ve taken authority away for judicial review, and it’s now at the sole discretion of police officers,” said Houston lawyer Doug Murphy, who co-chairs the DWI committee of the Texas Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association. “There are no checks and balances. Once you give police officers sole discretion, one branch of government can run amok.”A practical concern is that authorities could become overwhelmed with blood tests.