In possible Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases involving a serious accident, law enforcement often cannot perform their usual DUI investigative tasks, such as doing a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test. If the suspect is not in a condition to do these tests or is taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries, it is possible for officers to still complete their investigation. If the officers can develop probable cause that the driver was under the influence, there are ways to continue their investigation.
One way is for law enforcement officers to go to the hospital or treatment center where the driver is taken and request that the driver submit to a blood draw to test his or her Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at a crime lab. If the suspect does not willingly agree to this blood draw, however, law enforcement needs to obtain a search warrant to get a blood sample. Generally, a blood draw is considered a “search,” according to the Constitution, in which case a search warrant is needed.
When Police Don’t Need a Search Warrant for DUI Blood Draws
Despite the general need for a search warrant, there are some situations where an exception to this rule exists. For example, law enforcement can argue that the crucial circumstances of the case necessitated taking the blood sample without a search warrant or consent. Pressing circumstances are always a potential exception to the search warrant rule, but the state needs to bear the burden of proving that this evidence was needed quickly and that they could not wait for a search warrant to be issued.
Recently in Florida, a suspected drunk driver caused a head-on collision that resulted in serious injuries. This incident occurred along a long stretch of bridge between Miami and the Keys – the driver was airlifted to the nearest hospital, and since he was unconscious and could not consent to having his blood taken, the blood draw was conducted without consent or a search warrant. A test of that blood revealed the driver had a very high BAC and illicit drugs in his system.
During the trial, the driver’s lawyer filed a motion to have this evidence suppressed since there was no consent or search warrant. The court denied this motion, stating that the urgent circumstances of the incident – the crash was on a long stretch of bridge, with no courthouses nearby to obtain a warrant – made it acceptable to take the blood draw without a warrant or consent. By the time law enforcement would have received a search warrant for the blood draw, the reading would not have been accurate.
- Do You Go to Jail for a DUI, DWI? - June 10, 2019
- Getting a DUI While Parked or Sleeping in Your Car - June 2, 2019
- How to Find a Good DUI Lawyer – Everything You Need to Know Not to Get a Bad DUI Attorney - May 15, 2019
- I Just Got a DUI and Need My License for Work to Keep My Job. What Can I Do? - May 5, 2019
- How Long Do I Need To Have An Ignition Interlock Device Installed for a First DUI Offense? - May 2, 2019
- What Are My Chances of Beating a First Offense DUI Case? - April 25, 2019
- I Was Arrested for DUI, but Don’t Have a Court Date Yet. How Long do the Police Have to Charge Me With a DUI Offense? - April 19, 2019
- What Happens if I Can’t Afford to Hire a DUI Lawyer? - April 15, 2019
- How to Get Rid of a DUI, Clear a DUI Charge From Haunting Your Life in 2019 - April 14, 2019
- How Can I Beat a DUI, DWI Charge on a Technicality if There are Police Report Errors? - April 5, 2019