Can the police force you to draw blood?

| Sep 14, 2018 | Firm News

While breathalyzer is the most popular method for police to determine if someone is driving under the influence, many believe that blood tests will provide a more satisfying result. Aside from the multiple issues plaguing breathalyzers, the police do not need the suspect conscious to draw their blood before taking it to the crime lab.

Many residents often question this method as they believe it is morally and legally wrong to take someone’s blood to test it for DUI without consent. However, Florida does have specific guidelines that showcase instances where it is all right to do this. It is necessary to be aware of these circumstances when preparing your defense so you can potentially minimize any DUI charges.

Probable cause

Like most of an officer’s actions in a DUI case, they must approach the issue with reasonable suspicion. Thanks to the 2013 Missouri v. McNeely case, an officer requires a warrant to authorize a forced blood draw. This is dependent on the severity of the charges, as if your actions qualify as a misdemeanor, then they cannot get a warrant.

Police can use force if the DUI is a potential felony, which can occur after two DUI convictions within 10 years. If it is a misdemeanor and they do not have a proper warrant, a nurse can refuse to draw your blood, but it is often rare as some police demand it by force and the hospital may not have the right knowledge of what happened prior.

Exigent circumstances

The only instances where police can draw blood from a suspect without a warrant are when “exigent circumstances” exist. It is rare, but if the DUI accident results in the death or serious bodily injury of others, then Florida gives officers the right to use reasonable force. As the suspect is typically unconscious in these scenarios, the prosecution will argue that the officer can take your blood thanks to the state’s implied consent law.

Florida’s blood consent laws on DUI cases continue to be challenged and changed as time goes on. Defendants often question if the severity of the accident proves to be exigent, the officer’s right in taking the blood or issues with the blood test itself. Common arguments relate to any possible blood contamination or the time when the blood was drawn, as evidenced by a Panama City manslaughter case earlier this year.

Since blood drawing arguments are rarely straightforward, it is important to contact a Florida criminal defense attorney that specializes in DUI cases to prove that the officer made a mistake.