I have been following the embarrassing proliferation of forced blood draw warrants in Texas. One issue that has not been covered is what happens when a subject is faced with a warrant and still refuses the blood test? Prosecutor Jeff Swain (Parker County) wrote an article describing the horrific practice in his county.
Our DWI search warrant blood-draw program has been up and running for two years now. The judges are still willing participants, with the fax machines still in their homes. One of our greatest concerns—the defendant who fights to avoid the blood draw—has not materialized on a significant level. While a good number of arrestees say they will not let the blood draw occur, a show of force by a few officers standing nearby has stopped all but two from actually resisting the process. In those two exceptional situations, the officers teamed up, some holding the defendant to a chair and others holding his arm to the arm of the chair with towels. Blood was withdrawn from the arrestees’ arms at that point without further incident.
Why are these forced blood draws necessary in Parker County? Because the State lost a DWI case.
After (the defendant’s) acquittal, we decided that we needed to do something to prevent another intoxicated driver from going free. Feedback from the jury was that they just weren’t completely sure that Watkins was guilty and that what they really wanted was a BAC score to be certain of his intoxication.
The jury acquitted because the jury decided it had a reasonable doubt about intoxication. There was a video in this case. The jury saw the defendant’s actions. If a defendant does not drive, walk, or talk like an intoxicated person should he be acquitted, or held down by officers to have his blood drawn?