Texas Court of Appeals Overturns DWI Conviction

A woman arrested and charged with DWI in 2011 had her conviction for DWI overturned by a Texas Appeals Court recently. This case is another in a slew of cases that have been overturned because of unconstitutional searches conducted by police. It is another example of how important it is for each and every DWI defendant to stand up for the rights granted in the Constitution.

What is causing court across Texas to overturn these DWI convictions are illegal blood draws. Under the U.S. Constitution, police may not conduct a search or seizure of a criminal suspect without a warrant, or exception to the warrant requirement. For years, police in Texas and elsewhere have taken blood samples from DWI suspects under several theories of constitutionality:

  • That state law authorizes it, therefore it is legal;
  • Due to the fact alcohol leaves blood at a constant rate, taking a blood sample without a warrant fits the exigency exception to the warrant requirement;
  • Taking blood from a suspect once in custody is not a search and seizure under current law.

In recent years, all of these theories have been proven wrong, as this case will show.

What Happened in This Case

This case began in 2011 when a woman was observed by police driving in an erratic traffic pattern. The police officer pulled her over and began his investigation for DWI. During the course of the investigation, he asked her to perform the eye nystagmus test as a field sobriety test. Even though she refused to take the test, the officer had her take the test anyway, and he later testified that she failed the test.

With this information, the police officer made an arrest on suspicion for DWI. He took her to the local police station and ordered a blood draw and test be taken without her consent. All of this happened when a magistrate was available to see and issue a warrant for the blood search, but the police officer declined to get a warrant, and relied instead on state law which authorized a blood draw without a warrant.

At trial, the woman moved to suppress the blood draw as an unconstitutional violation of her rights. Interestingly, the magistrate ordered that the blood draw be suppressed, but the trial court judge decided to let it in. As you know, she was convicted of DWI, but then appealed the conviction. Now the court of appeals overturned the conviction and it will be slated for a new trial. At a new trial, the prosecution will have to rely on the police testimony of what he observed at the scene and during the investigation.

Defending Your Rights in a DWI Investigation

The popular perception foisted on us by public ad campaigns and common opinion is that a DWI suspect does not have a chance of fighting charges. But this is simply not true. No matter what your situation is right now, you will have a chance to fight your charges. If you are accused of committing DWI, contact us. At the Wilder DWI Defense Firm we will help you defend your charges, and do everything we can to get you the best result possible in your case.