It may sound unbelievable, but throughout the United States more and more states are allowing police officers to take blood samples from drivers with or without the driver’s consent and often by force if they are arrested for DUI.
In fact, the state of Wyoming implemented new laws in 2011 which allows officers to get a judicial warrant that allows the police to require drivers, who they suspect are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to take a breathalyzer, blood or urine test. Critics question the constitutionality of such a move, especially if the test is done by force, but most suspects now yield to testing without force.
Some, however, do not, and officers are ready to restrain suspects who do not cooperate. One such incidence required five officers to restrain a suspect but the police argue that they have a legal obligation in some cases to obtain the blood. “The judge is essentially ordering us to obtain blood from this person,” commented on officer, “So we are going to get that. It’s kind of a waste of time for a person to refuse or resist that process because we will get the blood.”
What if you interfere with a forced blood draw in Wyoming after a DUI arrest? You can also expect to be charged with a misdemeanor interference with a police officer. “If you look at the big picture here, we are here to serve and protect,” one officer said. “If it’s a requirement to protect yourself, a citizen, from a criminal act then that’s where the physical part of use of force comes in.”
Why do officers go to such great lengths to get the blood test? “Blood tests tend to be pretty bulletproof,” said Mr. O’Boyle the district attorney of Pierce County. Law enforcement officers also noted that they cannot force a breath test on someone, but they can take a driver’s blood without cooperation, strapping the driver down if they refuse.
We recently had a driver on our DUI forum ask if it was legal for the police to force him to submit to a blood test. State laws vary, but eight states have updated their laws recently to include statutes which specifically address this issue and which now allow officers to obtain blood samples in drunk driving cases, by force, if necessary. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada and Texas.
Other states allow the police officer to obtain blood samples without the driver’s consent but do not specifically outline the officer’s right to restrain the driver and forcibly obtain the sample. The argument in most states is that under a state’s Implied Consent laws, which were first instituted in New York but which have now been passed in all states, drivers have already consented to give a sample of their breath, urine or blood as a condition for obtaining their driver’s license.
This trend is hailed by some groups and decried by others. Critics cite the threat to privacy and our civil liberties. Advocates site the declining incidence of drunk drivers and the ability of the courts to prosecute cases more effectively.
What’s the bottom line? Most likely the law enforcement officers had the right to take your blood sample without your consent, but talk to a DUI lawyer to make sure.