New Texas Law Will Authorize Paramedics To Take DWI Blood Samples

On September 1, a new Texas law will go into effect that will ease restrictions on those who are permitted to take blood samples of motorists suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI) - ultimately resulting in more types of individuals who can perform these tests on behalf of police.

Most importantly, the law, which was passed earlier this year, will now allow Texas paramedics to take blood specimens at the request of police in order to gather evidence for DWI charges. Specifically, the new law states that a "licensed or certified emergency medical technician-intermediate or emergency medical technician-paramedic" can take DWI blood specimens for police as long as they follow established protocol.

Conversely, previous Texas Law clearly dictated that only a physician, chemist, nurse or qualified technician could take blood specimens for law enforcement. Consequently, the meant that many DWI blood samples were taken in the confines of medical facilities or hospitals.

But, with the passage of this new legislation - otherwise known as Texas House Bill 434 - paramedics will presumably be able to take blood specimens on the side of the road following an accident or DWI arrest, so long as it can be done in a "sanitary" way.

However, police are required under the new law to observe the paramedic while he or she is taking the blood specimen and must immediately take possession of the specimen from the paramedic - which is necessary to establish a proper chain of custody.

It is interesting to note that under previous Texas law it was clearly prohibited for paramedics to take blood samples on behalf of police. In fact, the prior version of the law stated that "emergency medical services personnel" were expressly barred by statute from collecting DWI blood specimens at the request of law enforcement.

Unfortunately, it is unclear why Texas lawmakers now believe emergency personnel and paramedics should be permitted to take DWI blood samples when in the past they did not, although it makes little difference as the law becomes effective September 1 regardless.

Ultimately, this new blood specimen procedure will add even more caveats to Texas' already complex DWI laws. Accordingly, if you have been arrested or charged with a DWI in Texas it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced DWI defense attorney. A skilled attorney can help review the facts of your case and delineate what your rights and options may be given your particular circumstances.