TX: SW to draw blood in DUI case allows testing for BAC

A search warrant to draw defendant driver’s blood included the ability to test it for BAC. But not anything else, such as genetic information, but that’s not the issue. Crider v. State, 2020 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 612 (Sept. 16, 2020):

Here, the State obtained the blood sample by way of a magistrate’s determination that probable cause existed to justify its seizure-for the explicit purpose of determining its evidentiary value to prove the offense of driving while intoxicated. That magistrate’s determination was sufficient in this case to justify the chemical testing of the blood. And this is so, we hold, even if the warrant itself did not expressly authorize the chemical testing on its face.

This holding is not tantamount, as Appellant fears, to an unconstitutional endorsement of “general” search warrants. The Fourth Amendment prohibits the enforcement of warrants that are so lacking in specificity that the police may seemingly engage in “general, exploratory rummaging in a person’s belongings.” Walthall v. State, 594 S.W.2d 74, 78 (Tex. Crim. App. 1980) (citing Andresen v. Maryland, 427 U.S. 463, 480, 96 S. Ct. 2737, 49 L. Ed. 2d 627 (1976), quoting Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 467, 91 S. Ct. 2022, 29 L. Ed. 2d 564 (1971)). But no indiscriminate “rummaging” through the content of Appellant’s blood was authorized here; nor does the record suggest that any occurred. On the basis of the warrant issued in this case, the State was not authorized to analyze Appellant’s blood for, say, genetic information, or for any other biological information not supported by the same probable cause that justified the extraction of his blood sample in the first place.

In his motion to suppress, Appellant sought only to exclude the evidence of his blood-alcohol concentration. Extraction of his blood for the purpose of testing his blood for this specific information was justified by the strong odor of alcohol the officer noticed when he first confronted Appellant and found him to exhibit characteristics of intoxication-a fact confirmed by the neutral magistrate in the warrant. The State does not contend that it should have been able to analyze the blood for any other purpose on authority of the warrant in this case. On the facts of this case, Appellant’s concern about the lack of specificity in the warrant is unfounded.

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