Have you recently been arrested on suspicion of DWI in Houston? Do the results of a blood test indicate that there were drugs and/or alcohol in your system at the time of the arrest? It's important to understand that blood tests can be very difficult to fight in court. However, it is not impossible to defeat first-time DWI charges with a blood test if you have the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Doug Murphy is board certified in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense and has been expertly handling complex Texas DWI matters for more than 19 years. His specialized experience and nuanced understanding of Texas DWI law and criminal procedure give him the tools necessary to successfully navigate the most complex DWI matters in Texas.
If you are facing DWI charges in Texas and have failed a blood test result, you need Doug Murphy on your side. Call the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today to schedule your free case evaluation. Your future depends on it.
DWI in Texas
It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in a public place in Texas while intoxicated. Texas law explains that you will be considered to be “intoxicated” if you:
- Do not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or
- Have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds the legal limit of .08 percent.
In other words, you cannot legally operate a vehicle if your ability to drive safely has been compromised because you have consumed drugs or alcohol.
Testing for Intoxication in Texas
There are two primary ways police test to determine if you are intoxicated: breath tests and/or blood tests. If you're arrested on suspicion of DWI in Houston and have the choice between a breath test and a blood test, it is always best to choose the former. Why? It's much easier to defeat criminal DWI charges when the state relies on results of a breathalyzer.
Breath tests are inherently unreliable and the results are often inaccurate. There are several factors that can impact breath test results, ranging from inadequate police training to using shallow breath samples that are not an accurate indicator of intoxication. A skilled Houston DWI defense attorney can easily argue these factors in court to delegitimize breath test results.
Blood tests, on the other hand, tend to be much more accurate indicators of intoxication and can be difficult to challenge in court. If you have failed a blood test in Houston, the best way to challenge those results is by attacking staff training and testing procedures.
Attacking DWI Blood Test Results in Houston
While it is more difficult to successfully challenge the results of a blood test in court, it is not impossible. Blood tests are not perfect measures of intoxication and are vulnerable to attack. When you hire our Houston DWI attorneys to handle your case, we will thoroughly investigate your alleged crime. This investigation will include an extensive look into the blood testing protocol, procedure, and analysis that was performed to gather evidence of your supposed intoxication. We will look for any indicators that the results of the blood test could be inaccurate.
Arguments that may be used to attack the validity of your blood test results include:
- Blood was drawn from an artery, rather than a vein, which is more likely to show a higher (but less accurate) concentration of alcohol in the body.
- An inadequate amount of blood was drawn to perform the test.
- Blood was not properly mixed with preservatives and/or anticoagulant agents.
- Blood samples were drawn by individuals without proper training and/or qualifications.
- Plasma blood tests results were not properly re-calibrated to whole blood value.
- Alcohol swabs were used to clean the skin before the blood was drawn, which could adversely impact results.
- Blood samples were not stored properly.
- The sample's chain of custody was broken or not recorded properly.
- Police destroyed all blood samples and failed to secure additional vials for retesting.
- The equipment used to perform the blood tests were not properly cleaned or calibrated.
Remember, the state has the burden of proving that you are guilty of DWI beyond a reasonable doubt. Attacking the validity of your blood test results can be a very powerful tool in casting doubt as to your guilt. If the state cannot satisfy this lofty burden, you cannot be convicted of the crime.
Do I Have to Consent to a Blood Test?
The short answer is “no.” In 2014, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that the state's implied consent law -- which basically said that driving triggered automatic consent to chemical testing -- was unconstitutional. Since then, drivers have had the right to refuse to cooperate with police who request a breath test and/or blood test.
Consequences of Refusing to Cooperate
However, refusing to cooperate with police during a DWI investigation can make you look guilty and have serious consequences. If you're convicted of DWI, your refusal to submit to chemical testing will cause your license to be automatically suspended for 180 days.
No Refusal Weekends
There are certain times when your right to refuse chemical testing is limited. Texas has what is known as “no refusal weekends.” No refusal weekends, which typically occur on holidays and/or special events, give police additional authority to impose DWI law. If you're stopped on suspicion of DWI on a no refusal weekend and refuse to cooperate, police can call a judge to secure an almost-instantaneous search warrant. The officer must, however, have proof that:
- There was reasonable suspicion to execute the DWI traffic stop, and
- There is probable cause to believe that you are intoxicated.
If a judge issues a warrant, the officer will have the lawful right to administer a blood test to determine if you are driving in violation of Texas law.
Consequences of Your First DWI With a Blood Test
Driving while intoxicated is a criminal offense and motor vehicle offense in Houston. As a result, you will face the possibility of harsh criminal and administrative penalties if you are convicted of DWI.
Criminal DWI Penalties
Your first DWI offense, absent any aggravating factors, will be a Class B Misdemeanor in Texas. If you are convicted of a first-time DWI with a blood test, penalties can include a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine up to $3,000.00.
Aggravating factors are circumstances that make a situation much more serious. When aggravating factors are present in your first-time DWI case, the penalties you face will be much more severe:
- Elevated BAC: If your BAC is at or exceeds .15, your DWI will be aggravated to a Class A Misdemeanor, for which the penalty is increased to one year in jail and up to a $6,000 fine.
- Injury: If another person is injured because you drove while intoxicated, you may also face charges for Intoxicated Assault, which is a Third Degree Felony.
- Death: If another person is killed because you drove while intoxicated, you may also face charges for Intoxication Manslaughter, which is a Second Degree Felony.
Administrative DWI Penalties
If you are convicted of DWI, refuse chemical testing, or fail a blood test, you will lose the privilege of driving for a period of time. After your arrest, police will confiscate your license and issue a Notice of Suspension, which basically acts as a temporary driving permit. You must request an administrative hearing to contest the suspension of your license within 15 days of your arrest. Failure to do this will result in the continued revocation of your license for up to 180 days.
Losing the ability to drive can affect every aspect of your life. It can become difficult to do things you once took for granted, such as commuting to work, running household errands, or taking care of your family. In certain cases, you may be able to secure a special occupational license, which can allow you to drive under very stringent restrictions.
Fighting First-Time DWI Charges With a Blood Test in Texas
If you've been arrested for DWI and a blood test shows that you were intoxicated, you need the help of an experienced Houston DWI attorney. Blood tests are the most accurate indicator of intoxication and can be very difficult to overturn in court. Doug Murphy, a Board Certified DWI defense attorney, knows how to navigate these difficult cases and attack the validity of results that may be used against you. With his help, you can secure the very best outcome in your Houston DWI criminal case. Call today at (713) 229-8333 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. can help to protect your future.