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Texas DWI Arrests: Drunk Driving Crackdown by Police and Prosecutors Just Keeps Getting Bigger as Paramedics Do Roadside BAC Tests and Feds Push for Lower .05 BAC Limit

Make no mistake, Texas law enforcement – from troopers on the road to district attorneys heading up offices filled with prosecutors in counties all around the state – are focused upon arresting and charging people for DWI.  And things are getting tougher out there for anyone on the road with even a single glass of wine at dinner in their system.

Drunk driving (Driving While Intoxicated) has been in the bullseye of Texas police departments along with Texas prosecutors for awhile now; check out our earlier posts including Texas’ “No Refusal” DWI Campaign In National Spotlight As People Start to Realize It’s Violating Constitutional Civil Rights.

September 2013: Now EMTs and Paramedics in Texas Can Legally Take Roadside Blood Samples for DWI Arrests

A new law became effective on September 1, 2013 that was passed by the Texas Legislature in the last legislative session.  In it, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics were given the legal authority to draw blood from people when police request them to do so.

This means that DWI blood tests can take place out on the sides of Texas roads, whereas before the new law went into effect, these blood tests had to be done in a nearby hospital or at the local jail.

Specifically, under amended Texas Transportation Code Section 724.017 those licensed as either an EMT-I or an EMT-P are now authorized under Texas law to take blood specimens in DWI cases.

Once these roadside blood tests are done, it becomes the responsibility of the police officer to (1) watch the taking of the blood as it is being done and then (2) take possession and control of the blood sample immediately thereafter in order to prove the chain of custody in any later prosecution for driving while intoxicated (DWI).

Of course, we’ve already seen this new law in action as DWI Campaigns around the state have mobile units on the roads during major holidays (like Labor Day) ready to stop drivers that the police suspect are driving while intoxicated (DWI) with EMT units already nearby to swoop in and take those blood tests even faster than they could be taken in the past.

Movement Growing to Lower DWI Blood Alcohol Limit from .08 to .05

Back in May, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its recommendation that Texas, along with every other state in the country, pass new legislation that would lower the blood alcohol limit needed to arrest someone for driving while intoxicated (DWI) from the current blood alcohol limit of .08 percent down to .05 percent. According to the NTSB, making this change would save between 500 – 800 lives across the country each year.

Will Texas listen to this suggestion?  Well, one of the reasons that we have a limit of .08 in every state right now is because the federal government tied this .08 limit to each state’s being able to get federal money for highway construction. If the federal government decides to tie the new .05 recommendation to federal funding, then this .05 BAC limit is going to be taken very seriously by state legislatures.

New App Being Sold That Lets Anyone Test BAC Using a SmartPhone: the Breathometer Sells for $49.00

Meanwhile, testing for BAC limits is about to get much easier for everyone. A new company has debuted online named Breathometer and right now, you can pre-order its new gizmo for only $49.00.

The Breathometer fits onto both iPhones and Android smartphones via the headphone jack, and is small enough to be carried in a pocket or a purse. Simply attach the Breathometer to the phone, breathe into the gadget, and the phone’s screen will report the corresponding blood alcohol level based upon this new fangled breathalyser.

The Breathometer is being marketed to people who want to avoid a DWI arrest or the danger of driving while intoxicated, of course. However, here in Texas, it’s not too far off to think that pretty soon, police officers are going to have lots of these little smartphone breathalysers all ready to use at any traffic stop.

Especially when you think about the ramifications of these gizmos having a built-in GPS tool that is promoted as being there to allow the phone’s owner to get a cab if the BAC limit is too high and they shouldn’t drive home. Nice to think that in the future, law enforcement might be able to know in advance where the drivers over the limit were located.

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Being arrested for DWI in Texas is a serious event. Having this on your record can impact your future in many ways, from job applications to future incarcerations and more. DWI is considered a serious crime in Dallas, Fort Worth, and elsewhere, and it’s important both to know your legal rights if you are stopped on suspicion of driving drunk as well as being charged with DWI.

For more DWI  information, check out our web resources pages (here and here) as well as Case Results which include:

For more information on facing your second or third DWI conviction, read Michael Lowe’s answer to the question, “What do I face when I’m convicted of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Texas – especially if it’s not for the first time?


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