Criminal Defense LawyerLakeland, Tampa, FL

Blood draws in DUI - Suspected DUI driver arguments against forced blood draws

Yesterday, I posted about the United States Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on whether police need a warrant before they can force a driver suspected of DUI to give a blood sample.  This blood sample would then be used to determine the driver's blood alcohol level.  This would be a key piece of evidence in a DUI trial as a jury is instructed that if a driver has a breath or blood alcohol level over 0.08%, the driver is guilty of driving under the influence.
It seems pretty clear that the Supreme Court feel that putting a needle into someone's arm to draw blood is a significant and intrusive search under our Constitution.  Based upon the questions the justices posed to the DUI attorneys, it does not appear that the court will allow officers to decide when to stick a needle in someone's arm based on the officer's own authority and own probable cause determination for a DUI arrest.  Sheriffs, cops, and troopers it appears will have to get a warrant before conducting a blood draw on a suspected DUI motorist.
It appears the Court feels that the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement should not be ignored for all cases of drunk driving when officers order a blood draw.   The prosecutor tried to argue that there would never be enough time to get a warrant before alcohol in the driver's system would dissipate, but the court did not seem persuaded by this argument. The justices seemed to feel that requiring law enforcement to ask someone neutral, a judge, for permission (a warrant to seize evidence) to force a person to give a blood sample was appropriate.
The justices did not seem to buy the prosecutors argument that there is never enough time to obtain a warrant for a blood draw.  The "exigent circumstances" could easily be overcome by putting certain warrant obtaining procedures in place.
Of course, the court is looking at exceptions to the warrant requirement.  Those exceptions are already in place in some felony DUI cases such as DUI with serious bodily injury or when a DUI is suspected and death results (DUI Manslaughter).  Other exceptions could be if the cops made a reasonable attempt to get a warrant, but failed.   Justice Sotomayor suggested that the Court should not write a decision that rewarded police in the least efficient jurisdictions, warrant-wise, by writing a national decision that ended any warrant requirement.
As DUI defense attorney, we do not argue that a warrant is required in every DUI blood draw case, but knowledgeable DUI lawyers argue that a categorical approach against ever requiring a warrant is unconstitutional.  This is still the United States and the constitution, by virtue of having a neutral stand between the police and the public, protects us all.
Getting a warrant was not a complex task, given that officers now can apply for one with a laptop computer and a cellphone.   It is something detectives, investigators, sheriff’s, troopers, and DUI officers do everyday.  And even aggressive DUI attorneys realize that here might be “exigent circumstances” that would overcome the need for a warrant before a blood draw was forcibly conducted on a suspected impaired driver.
Overall, the prosecutor’s main argument that alcohol dissipates in the human body quickly did not seem to persuade the Supreme Court justices at all.
If you have been arrested for DUI, DUI with Property Damage, DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, or DUI Manslaughter in Polk County or Florida call an experienced DUI attorney today to protect your rights.  A DUI can be based upon alcohol or a controlled substance.
Call and speak to Thomas C. Grajek, an experienced DUI trial lawyer in Polk County willing to fight for you in court today!



Aggressive DUI attorney handling all DUI arrests in Florida and Polk County, Florida including Bartow, Lakeland, Winter Haven, Mulberry, Haines City, Auburndale, and Lake Wales.

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