High Court: Warrantless DWI Blood Draws Are Unconstitutional
Just in time for the holiday weekend, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld a lower court's ruling that warrantless blood-drawing in DWI cases is unconstitutional.
In a split 5-4 decision Wednesday, the majority justices disagreed with prosecutors' argument that driving on Texas roads is a privilege -- not a right -- and that "the driving public" is presumed to have read the statute outlining no-refusal blood draws. (We must say, there are plenty of roads in Houston that don't really feel like a "privilege" to drive on.)
The case stemmed from felony DWI charges against a Neuces County nuisance named David Villarreal, who was stopped for suspicion of DWI and found to have "multiple prior convictions" for DWI as well.
The arresting officer argued at an evidentiary hearing that he did not believe he had to obtain a warrant to draw Villareal's blood "in light of the mandatory-blood-draw provision" in the Texas Transportation Code that requires a blood or breath sample anytime someone's been convicted of at least two prior DWIs.
Rice Owls Mens Basketball vs. St. Thomas University Men's Basketball
TicketsWed., Dec. 21, 7:00pm
Advocare V100 Texas Bowl
TicketsWed., Dec. 28, 8:00pm
Rice Owls Mens Basketball vs. Middle Tennessee State Univ Blue Raiders Mens Basketball
TicketsThu., Jan. 5, 7:00pm
PRCA XTreme Bulls
TicketsFri., Jan. 6, 7:30pm
But the majority justices found that the Code's provisions "do not, taken by themselves, form a constitutionally valid alternative to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement."
The lesson from this ruling is clear: you might want to stay off the streets when Villareal's behind the wheel.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.