Supreme Court to reconsider forced DUI blood draws
Cape May readers may be interested to learn that the United States Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether it is constitutional for a police officer to force a suspected drunk driver to submit to a blood draw without a warrant.
Is this issue a violation of an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights? The Court will be addressing this question soon. At this time, many states permit a blood draw without a warrant for any situation in which evidence might disappear in a short time period. Because alcohol is relatively quickly metabolized in the body, most states have decided that police officers can force a person to provide a blood sample after a breath test refusal.
New Jersey has taken a somewhat more protective stance against forcible blood draws. New Jersey law does not expressly prohibit a forcible blood draw when a suspected drunk driver refuses to provide a breath test, but it does prohibit police from using unreasonable force to obtain an involuntary blood sample. Anyone facing a drunk driving charge as the result of a forced blood draw should consider consulting an experienced DUI attorney to assess whether the search may have violated their constitutional rights.
Even though New Jersey law limits the use of involuntary blood testing, state law provides stiff penalties in an attempt to deter people from refusing to voluntarily submit to blood alcohol testing. New Jersey follows the “implied consent” rule, which holds that a person has already given unspoken consent to submit to breath testing by choosing to exercise the privilege of driving.
New Jersey police use the Alcotest device to measure blood alcohol content through a breath sample. Breath test refusal carries the same penalties as a DUI offense. The first offense can result in the loss of driving privileges for up to a year, thousands of dollars in fines and annual surcharges, mandatory attendance at intoxicated driver education programs, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. With or without a breath test, a New Jersey drunk driving arrest is a serious matter that demands experienced professional attention.
Source: ABC15, “Should police require a search warrant to draw blood in DUI cases?,” Oct. 5, 2012