Can Texas Law Enforcement Draw Your Blood Without a Warrant?

A few years ago, the answer to the question of whether police need a warrant to draw your blood after an arrest on suspicion of DWI was no. A case decided by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals changed the answer in 2014. Now, if you refuse a blood sample, the police are required to get a warrant before they can obtain a blood sample to test the alcohol level in your system.

Objecting to a sample can lead to problems of its own. Texas belongs to a group of states that follow an implied consent law. Meaning that when people choose to drive on Texas roads, and are pulled over or arrested on suspicion of DWI, they are deemed to have consented to a blood or breath test to measure the level of alcohol in the system. Refusing to comply can lead to you losing your license for a specified period of time.

The State v. Villarreal

The case that set the precedent for whether police need a warrant to draw your blood in investigating a DWI was State v. Villarreal, No. PD-0306-14 (Tex. Ct. Crim. App. 2014) and involved a man who was pulled over for a routine traffic infraction in 2012. At the stop, the arresting officer suspected the man of being intoxicated, and so he began a DWI investigation.

In the investigation the suspect refused to comply with the police. When asked to perform a field sobriety test, he refused. It was at that point that the police arrested the man and took him to jail on suspicion of DWI. At the station the man refused to provide a blood sample. At the time, under Texas law, a person could have their blood drawn when they had previously been convicted of two or more DWIs, even if they objected. Citing this law, the police got a technician to draw his blood and used the results in the trial that convicted him of DWI.

At trial the man’s attorney objected to the fact that the police took his blood sample over his objection. The trial court agreed with him and ruled that the taking a suspect’s blood violates the unreasonable search protections of the 4th Amendment. The state of Texas then appealed the case all the way to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. There the court agreed with the lower courts and held that in order for the police to draw a suspect’s blood over their objection they must first obtain a warrant from a judge.

Knowing and Protecting Your Rights

This case is an example of someone who stood up for his rights and was vindicated. Just because the state takes a course of action in a case does not mean they are right. Everyday police, governments, and officials overstep their authority. That is why we have a system of checks and balances so that people accused of a crime are afforded rights and an attorney to defend those rights.

At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we know what rights to protect on your behalf. Our practice is dedicated to defending the rights of those accused of crimes, and we know that you are innocent until proven guilty. We also know that the burden is on the state to prove their case, and that there are defenses available to you in your case. Contact us, and we will review your case and provide you with your legal options.