When Police, Hospitals Disagree on Search Consent
Texas has an implied consent law that states that a licensed driver has consented to chemical testing if a police officer has probable cause to believe that they have been driving while intoxicated. The law applies even when the suspect is unconscious and unable to give consent. When a DWI suspect is injured in an incident, the officer will often collect a blood sample from the suspect at the hospital, where there is a trained staff available to draw the sample. However, some hospitals have a policy against drawing blood from a patient who is unable to consent. This can lead to disputes between police officers trying to obtain evidence and hospital staff concerned about the patient’s privacy.
A nurse at a Dallas area hospital recently refused to allow police to draw blood from a DWI suspect until they presented a warrant. The male suspect had been involved in a car accident that killed two women. The man had been convicted for DWI five times previously, gotten off of probation five days earlier, and just had the ignition interlock device removed from his vehicle. A breath test showed no traces of alcohol, but the officer believed that he was intoxicated because they claim that he:
- Had been driving the wrong way at the time of the accident;
- Said he had been taking Xanax;
- Had bloodshot eyes; and
- Spoke rapidly.
Police arrested the man, who allegedly agreed to a blood test. After the suspect was taken to a hospital, a nurse told the officer that they could not do a legal blood draw on the suspect, claiming that the suspect could not consent to the test because he was intoxicated. The officer obtained a warrant to draw the blood sample from the suspect, who has been charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter.
Contact a San Antonio DWI Defense Lawyer
The Dallas Police Association insists that the police officer did not need a warrant to obtain a blood sample from the suspect because he had consented to the test. The Texas Nurses Association says that warrants are required when a subject is not mentally aware enough to give consent. You have the right to deny chemical testing if you have been arrested on suspicion of DWI. Police cannot force you to give a blood sample unless they obtain a warrant. A San Antonio DWI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock can contest the results from a blood sample that was obtained without your consent or a warrant. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your DWI case, call 888-726-5625.