Drinking and driving on the streets of Houston has become a lot trickier...not just for drivers but for the attorneys who represent them.
Houston attorney Chris Tritico says, "our historical advice has been don't give them evidence but now you have to give evidence either way."
Here's what Tritico is talking about...a mandate coming from the Harris County District Attorney's Office. Law enforcement officers from HPD to Harris County have been told if someone who is suspected of driving while intoxicated refuses a field sobriety they're blood is to be taken with a warrant.
"The supreme court has authorized if you get a warrant based on probable cause you can force someone to give a blood sample," says Tritico.
There's nothing new about blood draws in Harris county because they've done for quite some time. But here's what's new...deputies and officers say every dwi stop will be treated that way instead of just the occasional no refusal weekend we've heard about during holidays. That means is every potential d.w.i. stop in the county - 24/7.
Ray Hunt says, "I understand where it's coming from and I do believe it's going to result in more people being convicted of DWI who may have gotten off with a DWI."
Hunt is president of the Houston Police Officers Union. He says the mandate may help get drunk drivers of the streets but it will double the time officers have to deal with a d.w.i. suspect. Hunt says in the past it's been about 2 hours to process a suspect now with the warrant involved he says it could take up to 6 hours...He says that would leave some communities unprotected by officers.
"You've added two steps in there. Now you're gonna have to get a judge to sign a warrant and you're going to have to take them to the hospital to get blood drawn and then back over to the DWI room," says Hunt.
Tritico has successfully defended DWI suspects when there was only the breathalyzer test. He says with the mandatory blood draws for every stop - more people will find themselves convicted if they refuse the initial sobriety test.
"You've never gone to the doctor and gotten your blood test back and said I don't believe this we all believe blood tests when we get them," says Tritico.
We placed a call to the Harris County District Attorney's office this afternoon for a comment. So far we have not received a response from the spokesperson.