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When a forced blood draw goes really badly

In our last couple posts, we spoke about some of the consequences of refusing to submit to an alcohol test in Texas. One of the points we noted was that while Texans may refuse to submit to an alcohol test, officers may still be able to obtain one if they obtain a search warrant. Often, officers will force a DWI suspect to submit to a blood draw, since accuracy and propriety are less of an issue with blood testing when a suspect isn’t cooperating.

When a forced blood draw occurs, there is always a degree of risk for the suspect, especially when officers perceive the suspect to be resisting the procedure. A lawsuit recently filed by a Texas woman highlights this fact. In that case, the woman is suing the City of Austin, Travis County, county sheriff’s officers, and Austin police officers, as well as the nurse who performed the blood and her employer. She alleges that she was subjected to a violent blood draw after she expressed her desire not to submit to the test. 

The woman claims to have been taken to a small padded room at the Travis County jail where she was strapped into a chair, a protective hood was placed over her head to blind her, and she was forced to provide a blood sample despite the fact that she had a medical condition which caused to her shake involuntarily from anxiety. In addition, officers used choke hold pressure points to further restrain her, which caused her to have difficulty breathing. Further, the nurse reportedly stabbed the woman with the needle while her body was limp from the chokehold after it had popped out the first time due to her involuntary shaking.

All of this occurred despite the fact that the woman reportedly only expressed “passive and verbal resistance” to the test, and that officers were informed of her medical condition.

It is cases like this that make it so important to understand your rights when it comes to alcohol testing, and blood testing in particular. In our next post, we’ll speak about some of the legal aspects of blood tests and what recourse DWI suspects have when they have been subjected to an improper test.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Woman Sues Police for Brutal Blood Draw,” Ryan Kocian, Feb. 6, 2015. 

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