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Relating to the taking of a specimen to test for intoxication and retention and preservation of toxicological evidence of certain intoxication offenses.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 335 would make certain changes to laws regarding the preservation of toxicological evidence for intoxication offenses. It would require the relevant governmental entity to preserve such evidence for the greater of two years or the applicable statute of limitations if the indictment has been dismissed without prejudice. If the entity collected the evidence directly from a person, the entity would be required to give them notice of the applicable preservation period. If the case is ongoing or the defendant has been convicted, the court would be required to give notice. A court would no longer be required to notify the person if an action by it or the prosecutor changes the applicable preservation period.
Before asking a person to submit to the taking of a blood or urine specimen, SB 335 would require the law enforcement officer to inform the person that the specimen will be preserved according to the applicable law. If a person consents, the officer would have to ask them to sign a statement indicating that they were asked and voluntarily consented. The governmental entity responsible for preserving the evidence would only be able to destroy it in an ongoing case or after a conviction if the required notice had been given and, if the prosecutor desires, they obtain approval from the prosecutor's office.
SB 335 strikes an important balance between the need to store evidence for as long as it is relevant and the need for a legal path to disposing of biological evidence that is no longer needed. SB 335 does so in a way that respects due process and protects the rights of defendants. Texas Action supports SB 335.