Douds v. State

In Douds v. State, 434 S.W.3d 842 (Tex. App.--Houston 14th Dist. 2014, pet. granted) several people were injured in a car accident when a driver suspected of being under the influence of alcohol struck another vehicle. Id. at 845. The driver's blood was taken without a warrant approximately two hours after the accident. Id. The State argued that because there was an accident involving injury or death, exigent circumstances justified the warrantless seizure. See id. at 851-52. The Court rejected the State's argument and held that "the focus of exigent circumstances analysis in this context is not on the delay attendant to an investigation . . . but on the delay necessary to obtain a warrant." Id. at 853. The court held that the State failed to prove exigent circumstances existed because the trial court's findings did "not support an objectively reasonable conclusion that taking the time to obtain a warrant before drawing appellant's blood would have significantly undermined the efficacy of a blood alcohol test." Id. at 855. The court emphasized the fact that the evidence in the case did not mention a warrant at all, nor what the arresting officer knew about the time needed to obtain a warrant. Id. The Court held that evidence of an accident investigation, by itself, does not demonstrate exigent circumstances. Id. In that case, two vehicles were involved in an accident and one passenger was transported to the hospital. Id. at 845. The driver was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol and his blood was drawn approximately two hours after the officer arrived at the scene. Id. at 845-46. The court held that the State did not prove exigent circumstances existed to justify the warrantless blood draw because an accident investigation combined with the rapid dissipation of blood alcohol, without more, did not demonstrate that the officer faced any emergency or undue delay in obtaining a warrant. Id. at 854-55.