MCLENNAN COUNTY (September 09, 2013) -- A policy put in place in April of this year by McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara paved the way for blood draws to be done at the county jail on DWI suspects who refused a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test when pulled over .
In the past, law enforcement in McLennan County would have to take DWI suspects to a local hospital to draw their blood. Now, the jail medical staff is performing that task.
Blood draws are the most effective way to determine a person’s blood alcohol content level, but emergency room wait times created problems says DPS Trooper D.L. Wilson.
“It draws into your time, plus you are losing evidence on a drunk driver because his BAC is dissipating by the minute,” Wilson said.
So far, using jail medical staff to perform blood draws has been heavily utilized by area law enforcement. It was reported that 71 DWI blood draws have been completed at the jail since April earlier this week.
Trooper Wilson says an estimated 30 percent of those blood draws were requested by DPS.
“That is considerably high and more than we have done in the past,” Wilson said.
“I only expect that number to grow as more and more troopers become familiar with the process.”
DPS also says having the medical staff at the jail perform blood draws helps expedite judicial processes for them.
“This past labor day weekend I executed a search warrant at the jail, and got a turn-around in six days,” Wilson said.
“I got the blood to the lab, and now I can turn that in with my case report in a timely manner to the DA’s office."
In some intoxication cases, blood is drawn even without a warrant. This would be the case for intoxication manslaughter cases or any drunken-driving cases resulting in injury.
Refusing a breathalyzer or field sobriety test will get anyone an automatic 180-day license suspension.
According to DPS, the average DWI can cost a person up to $17,000.