The last week of November was a deadly time for crashes in Houston. In a span of ten days, six people died, including two 16-year-olds. The police suspect that drinking and driving was a factor in several of the crashes. Being arrested for a suspected DWI is always scary, but when you've also been involved in a serious accident, it can be even more stressful. You could be facing serious or life-threatening injuries, and a hospital stay. The criminal justice system can be difficult to navigate, even for someone perfectly healthy, but what happens if you're in the hospital, disabled, or have memory loss?
What Happens if I'm Injured?
If you're seriously injured in a crash and the police suspect you were drinking and driving, you probably have many questions about your rights. It's imperative that you understand what the police and medical professionals can do without your consent and that you have someone protecting your rights.
Can the Police Take My Blood While I'm in the Hospital?
Typically, the police need your consent or a warrant for a blood or breath test to measure your blood alcohol concentration. However, if there are “exigent circumstances,” the police may administer a BAC test anyway. Exigent circumstances may exist if there's a compelling need for official action, but no time to obtain a warrant, meaning evidence might otherwise be destroyed. If you're unconscious and can’t give consent, recent Texas case law is somewhat unsettled but seems to require that the police establish exigent circumstances before taking your blood without a warrant.
Can They Arrest Me While I'm in the Hospital?
The police may arrest you while you're in the hospital. However, they're unlikely to do so unless you're conscious and can understand your Miranda rights. The police may not book you until you're released from the hospital.
Does My Arraignment Take Place Virtually, or Will the Court Delay It?
It is possible to have an arraignment or first court appearance while you're in the hospital, but the court is more likely to wait for your discharge. Once your doctor discharges you, the police will likely book you, and you'll have your first court appearance. To ensure that an early booking or arraignment doesn't interfere with your health care, you should retain a DWI lawyer as quickly as possible.
What if I Have a Head Injury or Memory Loss?
If you're injured to the point where you can't assist in your own defense, your attorney may request a competency hearing. If you aren't competent to stand trial, the court may delay it until you can participate in your defense. See Tex. Code Crim. P. § 46B.003.
If you end up in the hospital after a suspected DWI and you're concerned about the police getting a warrant for a blood BAC test or, if the police have already taken your blood and want to arrest you, you need a lawyer who is an expert in DWI defense right away.
Hire an Expert in DWI Defense
If you or someone you love faces DWI charges, particularly if you're recovering from a serious injury, you need an expert in DWI defense protecting your rights. Attorney Doug Murphy is an expert in DWI defense and criminal defense law. Doug is one of only two attorneys in the state of Texas who is Board Certified in both specialties.
Best Lawyers in America also recently named Doug a “Lawyer of the Year” for 2021 for Houston DWI defense. He has aggressively advocated for his clients for years, particularly in complex or felony DWI criminal cases. Find out why the Houston media calls Doug “the drinking driver's best friend.” Give the Doug Murphy Law Firm a call today at 713-229-8333 to set up a consultation.