Even as Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo prepares to ‘train’ his officers to forcibly take blood from Travis County DWI suspects, a judge in Tarrant County has ruled that prosecutors may not use blood results from forcible blood draws done by improperly trained cops.
And, as of now, that appears to be all police officers.
In my previous post, I predicted that Acevedo’s attempts to ‘train’ his police officers to take blood from DWI suspects that refuse a breath test would run into some legal problems: primarily that they wouldn’t meet the legal standards laid out in Texas Transportation Code Section 724.017 and would therefore be subject to a motion to suppress the test results.
As Robert Guest points out:
These cops had some EMT training. However, the law states that EMTs aren't qualified.
Police should not be drawing blood.
First, they have a vested interest in convicting the defendant, not attending to medical needs.
Second, if the cop actually kills or injures someone they have near complete immunity.
Finally, State law includes breath, blood, and urine for evidence of intoxication. What if the police start getting breath/urine warrants?
Ok. So the last one is not likely (yet). However, we don't want police playing nurse anymore than we want nurses driving the SWAT tank.
In the comments to the local Austin story about “No Refusal Weekends” many local citizens complained that the police would open themselves to civil liability if Acevedo’s plan was implemented. Actually, I think Guest is right: it would be difficult to mount a successful civil lawsuit.
But while I love the nurses & SWAT tanks line, I’m not as confident as he is that forced urine tests are so impossible. Painful? Orwellian? Perhaps.
But then again, they could be coming to a city near you…