DUI Blood Test? Going To Need A Warrant For That.
This past week the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue regarding whether or not police need a warrant before they can forcibly draw blood from a DUI suspect who does not consent to a test. Their answer: Yes, the government DOES need a warrant to obtain a blood test.
The Supreme Court has long held that search warrants are generally needed before a government search, or intrusion, into someone’s body, like a forced blood draw. The Court has reasoned that these types of intrusions amount to a bodily search and are therefore covered under the 4th Amendment’s protection against unwarranted search and seizures. The Court has also long held that there are exceptions to this rule – most notably the exigent circumstances exception. This exception comes into play when officers believe that unless evidence is seized or a search conducted immediately, there will be a threat of danger to society or the destruction of evidence and thus, they can act without a warrant.
Police have always argued that with the every passing minute, the alcohol level in the suspect’s blood dissipates and therefore, valuable evidence is being lost without obtaining the blood sample. The Supreme Court disagreed, somewhat, and held that in many circumstances, and with current technology, there is almost always sufficient time to obtain a warrant. The Court also noted that emergency, or exigent, circumstances must be decided on a case-by-case basis and that since police officers must transport the suspect to the hospital to get his blood drawn in any case, there is always this issue of dissipation of alcohol.
If you have a driver’s license in California, you have agreed to what is known as the “implied consent” law. What that means is that in exchange for your privilege to drive is your “implied consent” to a police officer for a blood alcohol chemical test, be it blood, breath or urine. Some jurisdictions allowed for law enforcement to obtain forced blood draws if a suspect does not consent to one of the tests. The Supreme Court has now made it clear that law enforcement must obtain a warrant for this forced blood draw or risk having this evidence thrown out in court.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Burbank, Hollywood, North Hollywood or Santa Monica, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible for a free case consultation. Remember that you only have 10 days from the date of arrest to request a DMV hearing or your license will be suspended automatically. Also keep in mind that just because you have been arrested for a DUI does not mean that you are guilty or that you broke the law. It is important to have an attorney who knows the DUI laws in Los Angeles, Burbank, Pasadena, Santa Monica and Hollywood apply that knowledge for your benefit.