The concept of the breath-alcohol testing (BAT) van was good. It would be a mobile unit allowing law enforcement to administer breath tests to suspected drunk drivers literally on the scene of the traffic stop. Theoretically it would allow officers to haul in more DWI suspects because of the availability of instant test results. It would provide more accurate testing because the time spent transporting a suspect to a facility for a test would be reduced and it would keep more officers on the street removing drivers suspected of DWI instead of functioning as shuttle drivers. I am sure that there were other benefits; however, I am not in the law enforcement loop or made privy to those.
The BAT van turned out to be an unmitigated disaster for the simple reason that the temperature of the sensitive equipment it contains could not be stabilized or maintained in our oppressive Houston heat. As a tragic result of this, the office of the Harris County District Attorney attempted to indict the technicians who would not stand behind the questionable test results, later quitting their jobs. In a surprising turnaround, the Harris County Grand Jury began to investigate the District Attorney’s office for presenting and acting as proponents of evidence in DWI cases despite knowing that evidence was flawed. Careers and reputations were damaged and destroyed. In the live long enough and you will see everything category, an Assistant Harris County District Attorney plead the Fifth Amendment in front of the Grand Jury. It was her constitutional right to do so, but it was a stain and possibly all time low point for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. It was a poor reflection on an office the deserved better, and one that is filled with prosecutors who generally work hard to uphold the integrity of the office.
Channel 2 covered this train wreck in depth. The BAT van was a grand experiment that failed. However, after the smoke cleared, the true winner was due process in criminal prosecutions, and specifically Harris County DWI arrests. Our constitutional rights were not compromised for ease of law enforcement or the fact that a large amount of money went into something that did not ultimately work
Now, at this point in time, Amy Davis is criticizing law enforcement, specifically Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, for not using the van because of the large investment the county made to outfit it and put it on the street. Perhaps Amy does not watch her own station’s stories, perhaps she does not like legal correspondent Brian Wice, or perhaps she suffered a loss of her short term memory. In light of what has transpired, it is a small wonder that Sheriff Garcia did not ask Amy Davis to submit to a voluntary breath test or blood withdrawal herself.
If you need information on how a criminal attorney can help you, contact Rand Mintzer, Attorney at Law: 713-862-8880.