Since 2009 the Bexar County has seen an explosion of DWI cases where blood was drawn to measure alcohol levels.
On any given day, Judge Jason Wolff's courtroom is packed with people trying to get their cases through the system. Wolff is just one of several judges battling a backlog that was partially created by the "No Refusal" program.
Last October Bexar County decided to go "No Refusal" 24-7. So, if police believe you're drinking and driving and pull you over you have two choices: Take a breathalyzer test or have your blood drawn.
"What initially happened when they were going to do the mandatory blood draws, it was thought it would actually drop,” Mike Lozito, Bexar County Judicial Services Director explained. “[We thought] that individuals would see it, you know, they have the blood draws, and they would probably do more of the breathalyzer test. But that didn't happen."
In 2009 Bexar County had 367 cases where blood was drawn from the suspect. Under the new initiative that number has been multiplied by ten, with 3,655 blood draw cases in 2012.
More cases mean more work for the Bexar County Medical Examiner's office. They tell us it takes an average of 41 days to process a blood draw from start to finish. But the District Attorney's office and some county judges paint a darker picture, saying it can take closer to 90 days to get the evidence back.
"The medical examiners office, generally, their purpose is death investigation. And so with them having the toxicology lab there, that's where the blood draws kind of fit in there. So, they're not a production shop,” Lozito said.
Lozito adds being short-staffed has also contributed to the delay.
“The faster we get those results, the better it is for everybody,” Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg told us.
He'd like to see the process speed up; but says, in the end, having concrete evidence in hand is worth waiting for.
“It's a temporary delay so we can get a better result. It's better for the defendants in the form of justice, because obviously you don't want to convict somebody who didn't do something wrong. The blood test tells the story,” Herberg noted.