A bold new plan by Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo could have officers packing hypodermic needles.  Now it’s pitting a civil rights group against him.

Acevedo wants trained officers to draw blood from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test. 

“How many people have to die before we realize that we have to be aggressive?  We need to hold people accountable and we need to stop the bloodshed on our highways,” said Acevedo.  “If you’re going to drink and drive, we want to make sure we give our officers the tools to hold that suspect accountable.”

Acevedo wants to train DWI officers to draw blood from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer. 

It’s a proposal similar to what already exists in Williamson County, the difference being a nurse draws the blood in Williamson County, not the police officer. 

“Some folk think we’re going to go on the side of the road and arrest somebody and whip out a needle.  That’s not how it works,” said Acevedo.

Acevedo says trained DWI officers would take the suspect to a secure, clean place, get a search warrant, and only then, draw your blood.

But the Texas Civil Rights Project denounces the chief’s plan, saying it violates civil liberties.

“You’re basically violating somebody’s constitutional rights by going into their body and taking blood,” said Jim Harrington, Director of the Texas Civil Rights Project.  “People who haven’t been to nursing school (or) medical school could cause a lot of problems to the person they’re sticking the needle in to.”

Acevedo says the program would be paid for with a federal grant.  He hopes to have it in place before the end of the year.

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