A recent media report brings to light the horribly unfortunate circumstance of a man dying after becoming unresponsive in the booking process at the Harris County Sheriff's downtown processing center after the man's DWI arrest. Nothing currently indicates any police wrongdoing. The report indicates that the Sheriff Office's Homicide and Internal Affairs Divisions will conduct a review of all evidence relating to the incident. According to the media report, that evidence includes that officers tasered the combative man after his north Houston-area vehicle crash. Emergency medical personnel then checked and cleared the man for transport downtown for booking. But booking on a DWI is not supposed to involve a risk of death.
The DWI Booking Process
Booking on a DWI or other crime is supposed to be a routine administrative part of criminal procedures. Arresting officers transport the DWI defendant to the station or jail for booking. Once at the station or jail, officers confirm the defendant's identifying information, take fingerprints, and take a mugshot, returning the defendant to the holding cell while they complete the booking process. Officers also open the DWI case file to enter witness statements, incident reports, and any physical or documentary evidence. They also work with prosecutors to prepare the DWI charges and perform the background checks to confirm that the defendant is safe to release on the magistrate's bail determination. Booking can take a while. The defendant faces the stress of the DWI arrest and lodging in the holding cell. But otherwise, the defendant generally faces no special stress, especially if the defendant wisely refuses any interrogation in favor of relying on Miranda rights.
Limits on What Police Can Do
Constitutional law prohibits police from using excessive force when arresting a defendant or inflicting cruel and unusual punishment during incarceration after arrest. The days of exposing prisoners to regular beatings or hosings are long past. The Eighth Amendment even prohibits jailers from deliberately ignoring prisoners' known serious medical needs. Nothing in the above media report indicates anything unusual happening at the Sheriff's processing center. As to the taser use at the DWI arrest scene, tasers are generally legal, especially for law enforcement use. Tasers can, though, disrupt the electrical patterns of the heart, causing heart arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrest. Press reports indicate that tasers have been involved in hundreds of deaths. Everyone must hope that further investigation provides the decedent's family with answers. No one should die in the course of an ordinary DWI booking.
Retain an Expert Texas DWI Defense Attorney
Booking is, nonetheless, an important step in a DWI case. If you or someone you love faces a DWI charge, don't attempt to navigate the booking process and other criminal procedures without expert DWI defense representation. Premier Texas DWI Specialist attorney Doug Murphy is available for aggressive DWI defense representation. Attorney Murphy is so widely respected by DWI insiders that he lectures nationwide, helping other lawyers learn DWI and other criminal procedures. Attorney Murphy's peers also voted him Best Lawyers in America 2021 Lawyer of the Year. He is one of only two Texas lawyers holding both Criminal Law Certification and DWI Board Certification. Contact Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 today for expert DWI defense representation.