According to the Los Angeles Times, United States Supreme Court justices are concerned with allowing police officers the chance to make blood tests mandatory, therefore setting aside the requirement of filing for a search warrant when dealing with DUI cases. Wanting to go about treating every situation fairly within the means of the law, the justices express great skepticism on ruling that a driver can forced into offering their blood for a sample when they are believed to have been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. states that picturing someone being held against their will to offer a blood sample is a picture that is far from ideal to imagine; of a representative of the state thrusting a needle into a person's arm.
Officers are constantly on the prowl for those drivers who are suspected of driving while under the influence, and rightly so; it is their job to protect the people of the community. Their job to protect, however, may also be at the expense of the rights of the drivers themselves to have the option of saying no to their blood being taken from their own body. The general process when an officer believes a driver is intoxicated and this begins by watching for those who are swerving lanes or otherwise violating a traffic law. This would include rolling through stop signs, running a red light, speeding, aggressively cutting other drivers off, etc.
Once the officer proceeds to pull over the driver they suspect to be under the influence, they will likely have them get out of the car and conduct basic field sobriety tests including walking in a straight line, balancing on one foot, reciting the alphabet, and the like. While there can be a number of reasons for the person to fail these tests apart from being drunk, the officer then will ask them to comply with offering a breathalyzer test on the spot to read the deep lung tissue, or alveolar air. Even with breath tests, the reading could be extremely altered depending on health conditions such as acid reflux or even a recent burp. If there is any alcohol in your mouth, those tests can measure the wrong air supply in the driver. When this reads negative, or the driver refuses to participate, the officer will then ask for a blood sample. However in many states throughout the country, officers are required to get a search warrant before forcing a driver to give up their blood.
Despite the concerns of having to force people to offer up their blood, the Chief Justice does note that there benefits of this law change would be high as well. He states that when addressing DUI charges, a blood sample is necessary as soon as possible in order to get the proper reading, and if they were to give officers he freedom to get the blood sample immediately, and forcibly if necessary, that may allow for much more accurate testing in the future. He says that if an officer hopes to get a search warrant it can take as long as 2 hours, and by then their BAC level could have significantly decreased.
Another Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, notes that a person's fourth amendment right is to be protected from unreasonable searches, so would that not also protect them from having a needle shoved into their arms? She understands how intrusive it is to have a needle placed in your skin, as she regularly injects her body with insulin because of diabetes. Justice Sotomayor claims that this is too invasive and she is still very reluctant to agree. At this point the justices are discussing the greater use of breathalyzer tests, as opposed to blood tests. Whether legislation changes or not, if you have been arrested for a DUI, contact a trusted West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Richard Tendler today!