DWI “Warning” Revision, a Step in the Right Direction?

One part of the dismal night of going to jail for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Texas is having to listen to, read-along with, and understand the “Statutory Warning” that is required before the arresting officer or one helping him or her may take your breath or blood. Why do I sound so skeptical of this? Well, I’ve linked the document above, and please keep in mind while you read it that an allegedly intoxicated person (one who has lost the normal use of mental and physical faculties) is supposed to understand this and make an informed decision….Yeah, right!

The idea behind this document is to remove any sense of coercion by the cops that are trying to get a sample of the arrestee’s breath or blood. 

It further discusses potential license suspension for refusing to give a sample of breath or blood, providing a failing sample (above .08) and requesting a hearing to maintain your driving privilege.

As a criminal defense attorney for Austin, Travis and neighboring counties, I have personally criticized the prior DIC-24 forms and have always believed that they are overly complicated, and honestly, baffling, confusing, or just downright hornswoggling!

For example, it has always amazed me and seemed outlandishly deceptive that the form will describe what happens, at least partially, if you provide a sample above .08 but they leave out the fact that if you are below, almost always, the person is going to jail anyway for having lost the normal use of mental or physical faculties…. And they even have a line you can sign on for refusing a sample, and for refusing to sign the line… let’s just dig ourselves further into an evidentiary morass.

 The new DIC-24 adds the following language for search warrants for blood samples:

If you refuse to submit to the taking of a specimen, the officer may apply for a warrant authorizing a specimen to be taken from you.

Yes, this is a step in the right direction, so I am glad the language is present, but it only partially tells the entire story… In fact, my fear is that people not fully understanding the entire document with all of its legal jargon will just think, “Oh no, this cop is gonna stick me with a needle and take my blood” and that will cause them to provide a sample that they would not have otherwise provided….

To close, it is too early to determine if future DWIs will be impacted because of officers using an old form without the above warning, but it will certainly be a point of litigation for the foreseeable future! So criminal defense lawyers reading this blog and anyone else with an interest, please make sure to compare forms and take steps if the correct DIC-24 is not used in the DWI case you are defending or facing….

Afterall, we all know the deck is stacked for the State anyway.