Exigent Circumstances: What it Means to DWI Suspects

Over the last few years there has been a shift in how the police, courts, prosecutors, and defense teams deal with warrantless searches of DWI suspect’s blood. This shift has led to courts throwing out convictions and police departments changing how they interact with people they suspect are guilty of DWI. But this shift does not mean that all warrantless blood draws will be deemed illegal by Texas courts.

The recent shift in warrantless blood draws is due to the protections of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This is probably the most important amendments to those accused of criminal activity because it prevents the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures against U.S. residents. That means that the police can not just arrest you, search you, or otherwise harass you without first having met certain legal requirements.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Reverses Lower Court

Even though it is clear that the police cannot take a your blood without your consent, a recent case shows why it is so important that your defense attorney know the law of the Fourth Amendment inside and out.

The case involved man driving home from a party. After driving for sometime the man ran into the back of another car owned by his friend, and emergency services were called to the scene to help out. Included in those services was the police who showed up and began an investigation for DWI. The police officer investigated the man and determined that the had been drinking, so he took him under arrest.

During the arrest process the police officer told the man about Texas mandatory blood draw law, but the man refused to allow his blood to be drawn. Despite his protestations, the police had his blood drawn anyway, and it revealed that the man’s alcohol level was above the legal limit. Due to this evidence the man plead guilty, but reserved his right to appeal the fact that the blood draw should have been suppressed under the Fourth Amendment.

In his appeal, the man argued that the police should not be allowed to use the evidence taken against his will in a blood draw, but failed to argue that the police did not have exigent circumstances. Under Fourth Amendment law the police are allowed to make a warrantless search and seizure when exigent circumstances allow for it. But in his appeal and objection the man in this case failed to assert that the police lacked exigent circumstances.

The above example illustrates an important point. That point is that small details like preserving an objection about exigent circumstances matter to our judicial system. Paying attention to such details can often mean the difference between a conviction and freedom. At the Wilder DWI Defense Firm our practice is dedicated to ensuring that your case gets the attention to detail that it deserves. If you have been charged with a DWI in the Dallas area contact us. We look forward to going over your case with you and providing you with legal options and counsel.