Austin Police Learn Blood Drawing for DWI Cases

In Austin, Texas, police are now being trained to draw blood from individuals suspected of driving while intoxicated (DWI). This marks a departure from the norm where Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel would be the ones to undertake this task. The change is in response to staffing shortages within the EMS unit.

Lieutenant William White from the Austin Police Department (APD) explained that the officers receiving this training are as competent, if not more so, than the prior EMS personnel in conducting blood draws.

Despite the changes, the location for drawing blood will remain the same, only with a different person behind the needle. Four officers have already undergone training and the department aims to have at least 20 officers certified for blood draws in the future. The blood draws will still take place in sterile facilities located within the jail premises.

This initiative, however, is not without controversy. Some, like Kazey Olvera, founder of a local sobriety support group, express concerns about police drawing blood due to potential errors. Meanwhile, Dr. Ashley Garling-Nanez from UT Austin’s College of Pharmacy conveyed that drawing blood can indeed be a challenging task, especially without proper restraint.

APD defends the measures, stating that it was a necessary step and that benefits far outweigh any potential negatives, particularly if the right personnel are trained. According to Texas state law, anyone with relevant certification can draw blood.

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