The Needle and the Damage Drunk

On Monday the Texas Senate passed two bills related to drunken driving. The first would mandate statewide sobriety checkpoints; the second would allow police officers to draw blood from DWI suspects. The other sexually oriented newspaper in town focused on the sobriety checkpoints and mentioned that the blood draws would be related to serious accidents involving injury. That's not the whole story.

In fact, the second bill includes an amendment crafted by the Dallas Country District Attorney's Office that would allow Dallas police to draw blood from every single person arrested for a DWI. You're always welcome to read more about the "no-refusal" policy in this week's paper version of Unfair Park.

Toward the end of the bill that passed on Monday, there is a clause that expands who is eligible to issue a blood search warrant.  Right now, a judge has to sign a search warrant to demand blood from a suspect.

Most DWI arrests occur after midnight on the weekends. So a judge who has agreed to be on hand to sign the warrants must wait at his or her home by the fax machine all night. Magistrates, on the other hand, are on staff in the jail 24-7. Prior law has forbidden them for issuing evidentiary search warrants. The new bill would allow them to do so in the case of blood draws relating to DWI arrests. This is all that stands in the way of the blood draw program going full-time in Dallas.

It's unclear whether this bill will pass in the House. After all, although about half of the people pulled over for DWI refuse to willingly give over a breath or blood sample, 100 percent of the state's elected officials refuse to take the tests, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

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