The Austin Chronicle

Bloodthirsty Chief of Bat City

By Jordan Smith, October 31, 2008, News

Everyone knows it's a bad, bad, bad idea to drive drunk. There's the chance you'll kill yourself or someone else, and if not that, you still might spend a night (or more) in jail. But, beginning this Halloween, there's yet another reason not to be a scofflaw fool: Get caught driving drunk, and Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo will suck your blood. Okay, well, not exactly – but he will make sure a phlebotomist (hired by APD for $17 an hour) takes a sample from you down at the Travis County Jail.

Beginning this weekend, if you're pulled over for drunk driving and refuse a breath test, officers will be able to present a warrant to a municipal judge working an overnight shift and get the legal OK to draw your blood. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966 ruled that the blood test did not violate an individual's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination – which is what police rely on in order to test the blood of potential drunks.

"This is not an anti-drinking campaign," Acevedo told the Austin American-Statesman. "It is an anti-drunk driving campaign. We anticipate it will have great results." Still, the limit to police power to take blood against a person's will isn't entirely clear – and you can bet this will become an issue in the Travis Co. courts. So, be smart, and save yourself the pin prick, the jail time, the court appearance, or possibly worse. Don't drink and drive.

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