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When suspected drunk drivers in Galveston, Texas, refuse a breath or sobriety test, police officers don’t have to go any farther than their smartphone or tablet to obtain a warrant for a blood draw.

Galveston County’s Safety Through Rapid Investigation of Key Evidence program, or STRIKE, enables officers to contact a judge by video chat technology, like Skype, to request permission to conduct a blood test. After hearing the evidence and swearing in the officer, the judge can approve a warrant.

High Court Rules on Warrantless Blood Draws

In 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in most cases officers must obtain a warrant before drawing blood if a DUI suspect has refused to submit to testing. Despite concerns from jurisdictions about the amount of time it can take to get a warrant, the ruling dismissed arguments that the body’s rapid metabolism of alcohol creates exigent circumstances.

Modernizing the Warrant Process

In some jurisdictions, it can take as much as six hours to get a warrant issued, especially late at night when a large number of DUI stops occur. But the STRIKE program has cut that time down to less than an hour, thereby preserving both a suspect’s rights and valuable evidence. In addition, officers report that the expedited process allows them to get back on patrol more quickly.

Galveston’s program is a great example of how law enforcement departments are using technology to improve safety and better serve their communities. What innovations are helping your community?

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.

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