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Can Police Take a Blood Sample Without a Warrant?


Most people know about the basic principles of the Fourth Amendment: you are protected from search and seizure by authorities unless they get a search warrant. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as when law enforcement believe waiting for a warrant would lead to the destruction of evidence. This exception makes things particularly cloudy when it comes to DUI offenses. A recent Arizona Supreme Court ruling has clarified some of the confusion on this subject, and many believe taken a huge step towards preserving Constitutional rights.

The Ruling Summarized

This ruling, given back in March, follows up on a 2013 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that. Essentially, the ruling says that police and law enforcement may not take blood samples from an unconscious, deceased, or otherwise incapacitated suspect who cannot refuse consent. Drawing blood for purposes of determining intoxication level is considered a “search,” and this decision reinforces that law enforcement must either obtain permission to perform a search from individuals, or obtain a warrant.

The case presented before the Supreme Court was based on a Mohave County judge’s decision refusal to bar a blood sample taken from an unconscious suspect. The defense argued that the sample was taken without a warrant, even though officers could have obtained one within a reasonable amount of time that have allowed them to prevent a loss of evidence. In the past, officers would need to go to the courts, present their case before a judge, and then wait for the judge to sign off on the warrant, a process that could take hours or even days. Today, warrants can be obtained in as little as a few minutes by phone or other electronic means.

Implied Consent

It’s important not to confuse this decision with Arizona’s “implied consent” law, which states that anyone who is lawfully arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence must submit to a chemical blood alcohol test. Refusing to submit to this test will result in a license suspension for at least a year, and likewise won’t necessarily prevent you from being convicted of your DUI charge. This Supreme Court decision simply states that everyone must still be given the opportunity to refuse this test, and if they don’t have the mental capacity to refuse, officers must get a warrant.

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, Contact a Mesa DUI attorney from Naegle & Crider Criminal Defense Attorneys! Dial (480) 418-0776 to schedule a case evaluation today.
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