For those who have been stopped by law enforcement officials in Houston for suspected drunk driving, their first thought may be to refuse taking any sort of sobriety testing. Most may assume that officials cannot compel one to do anything that he or she does not consent to do. Yet when it comes to drunk driving, law enforcement is offered a little leeway. States have enacted implied consent laws that basically say that by driving, one agrees to chemical testing to confirm his or her sobriety. Indeed, Texas’ implied consent law can be found in Section 724.011 of the state’s Transportation Code.
In this section, it clearly states that those arrested for offenses committed while allegedly intoxicated are deemed to have consented to breath or blood analysis in order to confirm their impairment. It also goes on to say that one may consent to either forms of analysis. Some may view this as empowering law enforcement officials to perform chemical testing on whomever they want, whenever they want to. However, the Supreme Court of the United has ruled contradictory to this assumption.
According to information shared by the Huffington Post, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified in 2016 that officers are still required to have a warrant before being able to draw one’s blood for analysis. The reason behind this ruling is that a blood test taken without a warrant is viewed as a violation of the protection provided by the Fourth Amendment against illegal search and seizure. In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted that the intrusive nature of a blood test qualifies as violating one’s privacy.
The same ruling determined that not to be so with breath tests, however. Police are permitted to take such a reading regardless of whether or not a driver consents to it.