Illegal Blood Draws

Beware of the EMT or Paramedic blood draw! Many blood draws are being done are illegal. Texas law says the following people can legally draw blood:


Texas Tn. Code § 724.017(a) and (c):

(a) Only the following may take a blood specimen at the request or order of a peace officer under this chapter:

       (1)  a physician;

       (2)  a qualified technician;

       (3)  a registered professional nurse;

       (4) a licensed vocational nurse; or

       (5) a licensed or certified emergency medical technician-intermediate or emergency medical technician-paramedic authorized to take a blood specimen under Subsection (c).


… (c) A licensed or certified emergency medical technician-intermediate or emergency medical technician-paramedic may take a blood specimen only if authorized by the medical director for the entity that employs the technician-intermediate or technician-paramedic. The specimen must be taken according to a protocol developed by the medical director that provides direction to the technician-intermediate or technician-paramedic for the taking of a blood specimen at the request or order of a peace officer. In this subsection, “medical director” means a licensed physician who supervises the provision of emergency medical services by a public or private entity that:

       (1)  provides those services; and

       (2) employs one or more licensed or certified emergency medical technician-intermediates or emergency medical technician-paramedics.

The problem that I have encountered is some police departments in both Tarrant and Dallas county (and I suspect in other counties) are having EMTs draw blood and specifying they are “qualified technicians.” The law is very clear that if an EMT or paramedic draws blood, they can only do so under certain limited restrictions. These restrictions specify that a doctor must create a protocol that complies with the law. This includes the EMTs or paramedics option to refuse to do so. Many police officers are mistakenly believing that EMTs have clearance to routinely draw blood much like how doctors, nurses and qualified technicians can.

This is not the case.


blood-vialsI have been in Austin to attend several legislative sessions (while working for and against various DWI bills). I have heard, firsthand, the paramedic organizations testify against such an expansion. The truth is, they don’t want to be involved. Recently, the Texas legislature has overridden their concerns and allowed such blood draws under limited conditions. Unfortunately, for many police departments, they took this as carte blanche for an EMT or paramedic blood draw. The key is to challenge it in court or educate the assistant district attorney in negotiations. It is the state’s burden to prove if an EMT or paramedic draws blood that the restrictions have been complied with and a legally operated protocol is in place.

In one of my 2016 trials, the state was unable to comply with the law in that no doctor oversaw the protocol as legally mandated; a hospital administrator took responsibility (violating the law). In other cases, I have found that it’s a nurse in charge of the protocol. The deception lies in the police officer not disclosing that the “qualified technician” is in fact an EMT or paramedic. This is both fraudulent and disheartening.

We at The Coffey Firm have been on the front lines on this issue. We continue to educate other lawyers on this as well. It’s also our position that a jailer drawing blood as a “qualified technician” who took a cop course (run by a doctor involved in training police officers and jailers) also does not meet the legal criteria to draw blood.

The Coffey Firm is the only firm in DFW who filed a civil suit over an illegal blood draw (assault) when Dalworthington Gardens trained their police officers to draw blood. The practice at DWG has since stopped.


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