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California DUI Suspects May Be Forced to Give Blood Samples

Posted by Troy Slaten | Nov 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

If you have ever been arrested for DUI, then you probably know about implied consent. Implied consent laws state that a driver agrees to submit to a chemical blood, breath or urine test when asked to do so by a police officer with reasonable cause. If the driver refuses, they will be subject to penalties including license suspension for at least one year.

For years, this was how DUI cases were handled. If the suspect refused a chemical blood-alcohol test, they would face license suspension and police had to use other evidence to prove that they were intoxicated. But in the past few years, police have found a new way around this law. When a DUI suspect refuses to take a chemical sobriety test, they can be strapped down and have blood taken forcibly from their bodies. This extreme practice sounds like unbelievable but is actually quite common, especially in Southern States like Tennessee and Arizona. In fact, so far this year 292 forced blood draws were performed in Memphis alone.

In April, the Supreme Court made a decision about forced blood draws for DUI suspects. They agreed that the practice was not a violation of suspects' fourth amendment rights as long as police obtained a search warrant beforehand. The idea behind these forced blood draws is that the suspect's blood is evidence and there is only a limited time to get access to that evidence. The practice began in serious DUI cases where people were killed but slowly became common practice for any driver who refused to take a breath test.

This practice is less common in California for now, but since the Supreme Court has now weighed in and pronounced it to be constitutional, there is nothing stopping a police officer from obtaining a warrant in California and forcing you to give a blood sample. The good news is that the California Highway Patrol has stated that they will no longer force blood draws without a warrant and will likely only  request one for felony DUI cases. Not only is this terrifying for the person involved, it seems like a very extreme practice for what is most often a misdemeanor crime.

About the Author

Troy Slaten

Troy Slaten is the managing attorney for Floyd, Skeren & Kelly's Criminal Defense practice. He graduated with honors from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He then went on to earn his law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law.

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