In DWI defense, scrutinizing the evidence presented by prosecutors is one of the primary tasks for a defense attorney. This scrutiny involves not only the way the evidence is obtained but the evidentiary value of that evidence. A recent Texas DWI case demonstrates both of these points well.
Last week, prosecutors in Travis County tried and failed to convict a 24-year old woman on DWI charges stemming from an arrest back in 2013. Prosecution’s efforts in the case failed because the results of a forced blood draw were called into question due to the way they were handled, as well as the fact that there was a lack of other evidence of intoxication.
The blood test apparently showed that the woman’s blood alcohol content was 0.137 at the time of arrest, but her attorney pointed out that because officers did not seal off the blood tubes, contamination could have occurred. Neither did those handling the blood sample keep proper records of who handled them, so that it would be difficult to obtain that information with any certainty. In terms of other evidence of intoxication, there apparently just wasn’t enough to support the case.
The other aspect of the case is the manner in which the blood sample was taken. Officers did obtain a warrant to take the woman’s blood as they are required to by law, but the violent manner in which the blood was taken allegedly constituted a violation of the woman’s civil rights. Civil rights issues are not dealt with in criminal defense, though criminal defense can and does sometimes involve dealing with constitutional violations, particularly with respect to police investigations.
Those who have been arrested and charged with DWI, of course, should always work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure that they have the opportunity to challenge any constitutional violations and that their rights are protected with respect to evidence presented against them.
Source: Austin American Statesman, “Woman acquitted in DWI case that led to civil rights lawsuit,” April 20, 2015.