Cost Effective Driving While Intoxicated Blood Tests

One concern with blood testing for every Driving While Intoxicated case is the cost involved.  One possible method to resolve the cost concerns is for the police departments to begin to use paramedics to draw blood.  Currently, officers can take the arrestee to a nurse at a hospital and have the nurse complete the blood test.  Alternatively, officers can take the arrestee to an intoxilyzer room and have the blood drawn at the police department facility.

In either of these situations the cost involves additional police officers or having a nurse stationed at a police department facility.  When considering an alternative method the following salaries are factors to consider.  The median salary for a police officer in Texas is $50,547.00.  This is nearly $20,000.00 more than the median salary of an Emergency Medical Technician.  The cost of a phlebotomist is roughly the same as an EMT, but this would require the police officer to make an additional stop where the phlebotomist is located.

The DWI process currently involves a trip to the hospital or intoxilyzer room, and then a trip to process the arrestee.  This is time that could be saved by having an emergency technician available to perform blood tests at the site.  Police officers are far more costly than emergency medical technicians, making this a more cost effective method.  In addition, having the EMT available would speed the process up allowing the police officer to get back out on patrol rather than driving from one location to the next.  In the scenario set up by Harris County, the phlebotomist is at the same location as the prosecutor and judge.  This situation involves an additional stop for the police officer without any significant change in the cost of the process.

In any of these scenarios, a judge and a prosecutor would still be involved.  These costs will be a part of any formula that is attempting to create a more cost effective solution than what is currently used.  There may be ways to lessen the burden on these officials, but because of the necessity of a warrant, there is no way to remove them from the equation.


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