Errors in DWI Blood Tests

When it comes to driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrests, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of alleged offenders is typically measured through breath tests. Some police officers could also try to get alleged offenders to submit to blood draws for the purposes of measuring BAC.

If an alleged offender refuses to submit or is unable to provide a specimen, authorities may attempt to have the blood drawn without the person’s consent. While the legality of forced blood draws has been an issue for many years, authorities and prosecutors still attempt to get blood samples submitted into evidence because failed test results are often viewed as some of the most reliable evidence of intoxication for the purposes of obtaining convictions.

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Errors in DWI Blood Tests Defense Lawyer in Denton, Little Elm, Lewisville, and Flower Mound, TX

Were you arrested for DWI in North Texas as the result of a test of your blood? It will be in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation for help determining whether the test was lawfully and properly administered. You may be able to have your criminal charges reduced or dismissed if an error can be proven in the way the police officers administered their tests.

The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy has defended many individuals who were accused of these crimes and has helped them overcome the criminal charges. Our firm can be dedicated advocates for you in court and we will do whatever we can to make sure that you do not have to suffer any adverse consequences. Call (940) 222-8004 or contact us online to let us talk about your case with you during a consultation.

When Blood Tests are Administered in Denton County DWI Cases

Texas Transportation Code § 724.011 establishes that all drivers arrested for DWI offenses are deemed to have consented to submit to the taking of one or more specimens of their breath or blood for analysis to determine their BAC or the presence of any controlled substances simply by being licensed to drive in the Lone Star State. The law is commonly referred to as “implied consent.”

On the other hand, Texas Transportation Code § 724.013 states that a specimen may not be taken if the alleged offender refuses to submit to the taking of a specimen designated by a peace officer. Despite this right to refusal, state law does provide exceptions under which authorities may obtain blood samples.

Under Texas Transportation Code § 724.014, an alleged offender who is dead, unconscious, or otherwise incapable of refusal is considered not to have withdrawn the implied consent. If the alleged offender is dead, a specimen can only be taken by the county medical examiner, the examiner’s designated agent, a licensed mortician, or a person authorized by state law to take a blood or breath sample if there is not a county medical examiner for the county.

When alleged offenders refuse to submit to the taking of one or more specimens of their breath or blood, Texas Transportation Code § 724.012 authorizes officers forcibly take the blood of alleged offenders under any of the following circumstances:

  • The alleged offender was the operator of a motor vehicle or a watercraft involved in an accident that the officer reasonably believes occurred as a result of the offense and, at the time of the arrest, the officer reasonably believes that as a direct result of the accident any individual has died or will die, an individual other than the alleged offender has suffered serious bodily injury or an individual other than the alleged offender has suffered bodily injury and been transported to a hospital or other medical facility for medical treatment;
  • The officer arrests the alleged offender for DWI with a child passenger;
  • At the time of the arrest, the officer possesses or receives reliable information from a credible source that the alleged offender has been previously convicted of or placed on community supervision for DWI with a child passenger, intoxication assault, intoxication manslaughter, or an offense under the laws of another state containing elements substantially similar to the elements of an offense under those sections; or
  • At the time of the arrest, the officer possesses or receives reliable information from a credible source that the alleged offender on two or more occasions, has been previously convicted of or placed on community supervision for DWI, flying while intoxicated, boating while intoxicated, assembling or operating an amusement ride while intoxicated, or an offense under the laws of another state containing elements substantially similar to the elements of an offense under those sections.
 

Common Errors with Texas DWI Blood Tests

When a person is charged with DWI as the result of a blood test, it is important to immediately have a criminal defense lawyer review the handling of the blood sample in order to determine whether the test was lawfully ordered and properly handled. An attorney can file a motion to suppress evidence that was illegally obtained or challenge the accuracy of the results if there was any kind of mishandling of the blood sample.

A few of the most common kinds of problems that tend to arise with blood samples in DWI cases include, but are not limited to:

  • BAC affected by medication alleged offender was taken;
  • Blood not drawn by authorized medical personnel;
  • Blood test not authorized under the law;
  • Contaminated sample;
  • Failure to convert serum or plasma alcohol concentration to whole blood alcohol concentration;
  • False-positive;
  • Faulty or expired testing kit; or
  • Improper storage of the sample.
 

In most cases, these types of mistakes could lead to a possible dismissal of the criminal charges. Even when authorities seem to take the time to put results into computers and handle specimens properly, errors can still occur and an experienced criminal defense lawyer will know how to identify the mistakes that could help a criminal case.

Simply put, a prosecutor must prove in a DWI case that an alleged offender operated a motor vehicle under the influence. When there are doubts about the accuracy of a blood test, it can often lead to an alleged offender being acquitted.

Denton County Errors in DWI Blood Tests Resources 

Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S. Ct. 1552 — Tyler McNeely was stopped by a Missouri police officer stopped for speeding and repeatedly crossing the centerline. McNeely performed poorly on a number of field sobriety tests before declining to submit to a breath test. The officer transported McNeely to a station house where he again refused to provide a breath specimen, leading to the officer then taking McNeely to a local hospital for blood testing. After McNeely refused to submit to that test as well, the officer directed a lab technician to take a blood sample that ultimately showed McNeely had a BAC of 0.154 percent. The trial court, state appeals court, Missouri Supreme Court, and the United States Supreme Court all agreed that the involuntary blood draw violated McNeely’s Fourth Amendment rights of alleged offenders, although the United States Supreme Court left open the possibility that an exigent circumstances exception “applies when there is a compelling need to prevent the imminent destruction of important evidence, and there is no time to obtain a warrant.”

State v. Villarreal, 475 SW 3d 784 — David Villarreal was stopped in 2012 for a traffic violation when the police officer noticed signs of possible intoxication. Villarreal refused to submit to any field sobriety tests or provide a specimen for chemical tests, but police had a qualified technician draw Villarreal’s blood under Texas Transportation Code § 724.012(b)(3)(B) because a criminal-history check revealed that Villarreal had been convicted of DWI on several occasions. The test revealed Villarreal had a BAC of 0.16 grams of alcohol per hundred milliliters of blood. Villarreal’s attorney argued that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Missouri v. McNeely held that “in the absence of exigent circumstances, a DWI suspect’s blood may not be drawn without a warrant, and he further argued that the federal Constitution overrides the Texas statute that authorizes a mandatory blood draw in certain situations.” On November 26, 2014, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to suppress the blood test results, concluding “that the warrantless, nonconsensual testing of a DWI suspect’s blood does not categorically fall within any recognized exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, nor can it be justified under a general Fourth Amendment balancing test.”

Find A Denton County Defense Attorney for Errors in DWI Blood Tests | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

If a blood test is used to arrest you for an alleged DWI offense in North Texas, you will want to make sure that you retain legal counsel as soon as possible to help understand all of your rights and achieve the most favorable possible outcome for your case.

The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy regularly defends people throughout Denton County and will be able to work to make sure that you can face the fewest possible penalties despite your arrest. Our firm can review your case and discuss all of your legal options with you when you call (940) 222-8004 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.