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The Blood Alcohol Test in a Texas DWI - The state of Texas has approved two separate chemical tests to determine a person’s alcohol level. The first is a breathalyzer test and the second is a blood alcohol test. While urine tests are occasionally used, a urine test can only show that a certain substance was consumed, but cannot show that the substance is actively impairing the person to the level required for a DWI or DUI conviction. Texas, like most states, has Implied Consent laws, which means if you have a Texas driver’s license, and you are driving on a public Texas road, you are assumed to have given consent to a chemical test if you are stopped under suspicion of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence.
While you do have the legal right to refuse the test, doing so can result in an administrative suspension of your driving privileges. The arresting officer can make the decision as to whether to administer a breathalyzer test or a blood alcohol test, although he or she is bound by certain guidelines. There are, however, counties in Texas which operate under a “No Refusal” policy, in which case, your refusal will not be honored; the officer will obtain a warrant, and you will be subject to a forced blood draw. If you happen to be unconscious, therefore unable to consent or refuse a chemical test, then your consent is considered implied, and blood taken.
How a Blood Alcohol Test is Administered - A police officer can only direct a qualified technician, chemist, registered professional nurse, licensed vocational nurse or physician to draw your blood, in the officer’s presence, using a self-contained standard blood withdrawal kit. Most “no refusal” programs have nurses on standby at the jail to draw blood, and some Texas police departments are training arresting officers to become certified to draw blood. Currently, the city of Houston has “no refusal” weekends, which mostly occur during holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day weekend, Thanksgiving weekend through Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Other high-profile events such as Super Bowl can also trigger a “no refusal” weekend.
About Blood Draws - Due to the large amount of human intervention required to draw blood, preserve the blood, properly transport the blood, then test the samples of blood, there is significant opportunity for the blood sample to become compromised. The arresting officer must properly preserve the blood samples until the samples are delivered to a state-approved forensic laboratory. If the police officer is unable to deliver the blood sample to the lab within 24 hours, he or she is required to refrigerate the blood sample. Blood can ferment when exposed to heat, and fermentation can actually increase the blood alcohol level in the blood sample, therefore refrigeration is crucial—and failure to refrigerate is definitely a point which can be challenged.
Blood samples can also be contaminated at any point along the chain of command, therefore, it may also be possible for your Houston DWI attorney to challenge the blood sample based on contamination. This is actually a good thing for those who have been forced to give blood when suspected of DWI in Texas. The margin of error is sufficient that the results of the blood draw can be challenged by your Houston DWI lawyer. You are allowed under Texas law to have an independent laboratory conduct an analysis, which allows the blood sample to be double checked, and the results confirmed.
An experienced Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI lawyer who understands the many complexities associated with blood alcohol tests in Texas is often successful in challenging the test. If a suppression challenge is successful—due to contamination, improper handling or improper chain of command—the results of the blood sample will not be admitted, therefore the jury will never know you were forced to give a blood sample.
Errors related to allegations of drinking and driving are actually fairly frequent in the realm of blood alcohol testing. A blood sample could inadvertently be mislabeled, or the blood sample could be allowed to leave the chain of custody, thus compromising the results. Some facilities may test blood serum, rather than whole blood. This can lead to significantly higher BAC levels, as can taking medications for conditions such as asthma, ulcers, diabetes or some other illnesses or injuries.
Can Your Blood Alcohol Test Be Challenged? Whether your blood alcohol test can be challenged or not will depend entirely on the circumstances surrounding your blood draw, and subsequent events related to the blood draw. A Houston DWI lawyer can be invaluable should you find yourself facing a DWI in Texas. The blood alcohol test is used to determine whether you are over the 0.08 percent limit, and blood and breath tests are used to measure BAC. Both police officers and DWI suspects tend to disfavor blood draws, for obvious reasons.
A blood test can take up to a month to deliver the results, while breathalyzer results are instant. Texas DWI laws have become increasingly tougher over the years, meaning you could, under certain circumstances, be forced to undergo a blood draw. Experienced Houston criminal defense lawyers are well aware of the potential problems associated with contaminated blood specimens, as well as other issues associated with blood draws for a blood alcohol test.
How Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help You with Your Blood Alcohol Test Results - If you have gone through a Harris County arrest and were charged with a DWI in Texas, you certainly do not want to face the Harris County District Attorney on your own. The Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI lawyers will work hard on your behalf to help you avoid Harris County criminal records and Harris County jail. Our highly experienced Houston DWI attorneys can make a significant difference in the outcome of your DWI in Texas. Not only are we Houston criminal defense lawyers with payment plans, we also offer free consultations for your DWI in Texas charges, Harris County blood alcohol tests and Harris County breathalyzer tests can have serious issues; your knowledgeable Sullo & Sullo Houston criminal defense attorneys can advocate strongly for you regarding those issues and others.