KXAN ran a story tonight about Austin Chief of Police Art Acevedo’s plan to do away with breath test refusals in Austin DWI cases:

"My intent in the future is to make it so there is no such thing as a refusal. You can refuse all you want, but we are going to aggressively seek search warrants," said Acevedo.
           
The search warrant would give an officer the right to stick a needle in your arm to get a blood alcohol level, replacing the job of a jail nurse.
           
"It’s about saving money for the taxpayer. If I have an officer that’s already involved in a case, they’re already going to be going to court. Come to find out, the defense attorneys around here are telling people not to give them a test," said Acevedo.

Ouch – literally.  My friend and fellow Austin DWI lawyer Ken Gibson is quoted in the story as well:

"Folks that are exercising their right shouldn’t be afraid, that by doing so, ‘Bubba Police Officer’ may stick them in the arm," said Austin DWI attorney Ken Gibson.
           
Gibson said police officers shouldn’t play nurse as well.
           
"The officer’s going to have a liability if they don’t do it right. The city’s going to have a liability if they don’t do it right. In today’s times of AIDS and hepatitis and everything else, police officers don’t want to be out sticking needles in people," said Gibson.

Kenny’s got a point.

First, there’s no way that APD is going to be able to train police officers to be physicians, chemists, registered professional nurses or licensed vocational nurses. So that means Acevedo is going to have to find a way to train them to be ‘qualified technicians’ – the only other category of person allowed to take blood in a DWI case by statute. (See Texas Transportation Code 724.017.)

The law specifically says that emergency medical personnel do not meet the definition of ‘qualified technicians’ so who knows what training Acevedo thinks he can put his officers through to get them to meet the requirements of the statute. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Second, take a look at the last line of 724.017 (b):

This subsection does not relieve a person from liability for negligence in the taking of a blood specimen.

Acevedo knows a thing or two about civil lawsuits against police departments, so he might want to make sure he knows what he’s getting into on this one.

[I guess it could be worse…]

Update: Below the Fold


Continue Reading Forced Blood Draws Coming To Austin in DWI Cases

Dallas DWI Lawyer Robert Guest “I donate to MADD”:

Not intentionally… MADD is stealing my tax dollars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave MADD $400,000 of our money to "monitor drunken driving" proceedings in court.

This is wrong on many levels.

1. Watching court is free. Anyone can watch court. It costs nothing. Why

Police in New York State have admitted to arresting and charging drivers with any alcohol on their breath, although the law only criminalizes impaired driving. Well, that’s my DWI defense lawyer take on the story, but you tell me:         

"If you’re going to drink, do it at home, designate a driver or hire a taxi.

“Does the Austin DWI Task Force have arrest quotas?”

I get asked this semi-frequently by folks recently arrested for DWI. I can tell you that the officers will testify, under oath, that there is not.

And, depending on the definition of the word “quota”, that may or may not be true.

It’s almost definitely true that

From today’s Austin American Statesman:

Senate Bill 59, written by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, gives police the authority to set up temporary sobriety checkpoints. The roadside barricades haven’t been legal in Texas since 1994. A state court of appeals ruled them unconstitutional because the Legislature had not developed guidelines to ensure they were being

More than half of police officers in Texas are certified to administer field sobriety tests to subjects stopped and being investigated for DWI.  The percentage is even higher in Austin.

The Austin Police Department created a specialized DWI Enforcement Unit (defense lawyers around here tend to refer to it as the ‘DWI Task Force’) in