Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the 25th District Court of Gonzales County,
Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Benavides and Hinojosa
M. BENAVIDES, JUSTICE.
cause is before this Court for a second time. See State
v. Ruiz, 509 S.W.3d 451, 452 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi
2015), vacated and remanded by PD-1362-15, 2017
WL430291, at *1 (Tex. Crim. App. Feb. 1, 2017) (per curiam)
(not designated for publication).
per curiam opinion, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
stated that while our 2015 decision remained pending on its
docket, the high court decided two cases analyzing the issue
of exigent circumstances in the context of suppressing blood
evidence obtained pursuant to a warrantless draw. Thus, the
court of criminal appeals vacated our previous opinion and
remanded this case for further analysis in light of those two
opinions. See id. at *1.
the court of criminal appeals' mandate, we issue this new
opinion today by re-analyzing the State's appeal
challenging the trial court's granting of appellee Jose
Ruiz's motion to suppress. We affirm.
approximately midnight on September 9, 2012, Gonzales, Texas
police officer Bethany McBride responded to an automobile
collision between a Lincoln and a Pontiac at the intersection
of 90A and Robertson. The driver of the Pontiac remained at
the scene and advised Officer McBride that the driver of the
Lincoln-later identified as Ruiz-had fled the scene of the
crash and had run behind a car wash in the area. Other
witnesses at the scene relayed the same information to
closer inspection of the Lincoln, Officer McBride observed
several exploded Bud Light beer cans in the front seat and
found insurance paperwork in Ruiz's name. Officer McBride
also confirmed that the vehicle was registered to Ruiz. Once
Officer McBride's backup officer arrived at the scene, she
advised the backup officer that Ruiz had fled behind the car
wash on Apache Loop. Officer McBride also testified that at
that point "we had county officers and my backup officer
try to locate [Ruiz]." The officers eventually located
Ruiz in "the exact location" that witnesses had
described and carried him to a patrol unit.
McBride testified that once Ruiz was located, "it took
several officers to get [Ruiz] from the field to carry him to
the patrol unit." Officer McBride described Ruiz as
"unresponsive, " that he "couldn't open
his eyes" and "wouldn't respond" to the
officers. She further recalled that Ruiz had a "strong
odor of alcoholic beverage" emitting from his person and
also had "no apparent injuries" to his body.
medical service (EMS) personnel arrived at the scene and
performed several sternum rubs on Ruiz but found him to be
unresponsive. At that point, EMS transported Ruiz to the
hospital, where he remained unconscious throughout the night.
McBride testified that after "a period of time" she
traveled to the hospital in order to "make sure that he
was cleared medically and to have blood drawn." She
eventually placed Ruiz under arrest and then gathered and
filled out paperwork to order hospital personnel to perform a
blood draw. Once the blood was drawn, Officer McBride took
custody of the blood sample and "put it in the icebox at
the Gonzales Police Department to be sent to [the] lab."
While already in custody, doctors at the hospital told
Officer McBride that they wanted to keep Ruiz hospitalized
overnight "due to his condition." Officer McBride
testified that she had no concern that he would flee from the
hospital or destroy any evidence.
cross-examination, when asked by Ruiz's attorney whether
it would have been reasonable to obtain a warrant to draw
Ruiz's blood that night, Officer McBride said no. When
asked why, Officer McBride responded: "that night two
officers on, to take one off, no." Furthermore, she
estimated that it would have taken "probably about two
or three hours" to get a warrant that night.
Additionally, Officer McBride stated that she based her
decision to draw Ruiz's blood on section 724.012 of the
re-direct, Officer McBride testified that her investigation
of Ruiz's crash took "longer" than a general
traffic stop. Furthermore, she testified that no procedures
were in place at the time within the Gonzales Police
Department to obtain search warrants for blood evidence. And
lastly, Officer McBride stated that it would have been
"difficult" to find a judge to sign a warrant that
night, and if she would have found a judge, she would have
had to drive to that judge's house to obtain the
the hearing, the trial court granted Ruiz's motion to
suppress and issued the following relevant findings of fact
and conclusions of law:
1. [Ruiz] was involved in an accident late at night to early
morning on September 9, 2013. Gonzales Police Department Sgt.
Bethany McBride responded.
2. [Ruiz] became unconscious and was carried and placed in
McBride's patrol vehicle.
. . . .
4. Following [Ruiz's] arrest by McBride the attending
physicians indicated they wanted to keep [Ruiz] overnight.
5. There was no concern that [Ruiz] would flee from the
6. A warrant could have been obtained within 2 to 3 hours.
. . . .
8. McBride performed a criminal history check on [Ruiz] and
found four previous convictions for DWI. Relying on Texas
[Transportation] Code 724.012 and 724.014 McBride ordered the
blood draw from [Ruiz].
9. [Ruiz] remained in custodial arrest during the time the
blood was drawn.
10. The court finds Officer McBride's testimony to be
credible in all respects.
1. The court takes judicial notice of all statutes
promulgated under [the] Texas Transportation Code and in
effect during ...