The Prosecutor, September-October 2009, Volume 39, No. 5

New objections and laws concerning blood draws

2009

While innocence projects and half the defense bar laud blood evidence and the certainty they bring to DWI cases, the other half decry blood search warrants and the certainty they bring to DWI cases. Blood evidence is just as hard to fight in an intoxication case as DNA evidence in sexual assaults. This does not mean that such cases are not strenuously defended; blood samples just change the arena from a jury trial to the suppression hearing.

Statewide, blood search warrants lead to fewer jury trials in DWI cases. (As TDCAA’s Shannon Edmonds so pithily observed about blood draws in TDCAA’s ongoing Legislative Updates, “If it bleeds, it pleads.”) Not surprisingly, however, novel and complicated defense objections to blood search warrants are proliferating. Meanwhile, thanks to the outstanding efforts of John Bradley (DA in Williamson County), Shannon Edmonds, and a host of other prosecutors who fought the good fight in Austin during the 81st Legislative Session, a wonderful improvement in the law concerning blood draws in the most serious DWI and related cases is now in effect. These changes to the mandatory blood draw provisions of Chapter 724 of the Texas Transportation Code will allow warrantless, mandatory blood draws in felony DWI and DWI-related offenses, effective September 1. Because the new law will virtually remove the nee