Finds Warrantless Blood Test a Significant Intrusion on Privacy Rights
In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled that police need a warrant to conduct a blood test of someone suspected of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Three defendants were arrested on suspicion of DUI. Two were offered blood tests and one was offered a breathalyzer test. All three refused. In addition to the DUI, the defendants were additionally charged with refusing the test.
Having a License Means Consent to BAC Test
Like Florida, many states have an implied consent law which means that, by accepting the privilege of driving a vehicle, you consent to submit to a physical or chemical test to determine your BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content. If a police officer has reasonable probable cause to believe you were operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant like alcohol, or recreational or prescription drugs, he or she can stop you and charge you with DUI. To obtain proof that you were under the influence, the officer will usually perform field sobriety tests, and will often test your breath, urine, or blood. If your BAC is above .08 percent, you can be charged with DUI.
Blood Test More Intrusive than Breathalyzer or Urine Test
In Birchfield v. North Dakota, the defendants were found guilty of both DUI and refusing to submit to the BAC test. On appeal, defendants claimed that punishing them for refusing to submit to the breath or blood test was unconstitutional. They argued that punishment for their refusal to submit to the test violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
The United States Supreme Court partially agreed, finding that a police officer must obtain a warrant before administering a blood test. The court did not require a warrant for a breathalyzer test, reasoning that a blood test is significantly more intrusive than a breath or urine test.
Impact on Florida Drivers
The cases were appealed from North Dakota and Minnesota; however, the Supreme Court decision impacts people charged with DUI in Florida. Police can still charge a Florida DUI suspect with the additional crime of refusing a breath or urine test. However, a police officer must obtain a warrant before withdrawing blood from someone who refuses to submit to a blood test. Also, a DUI suspect cannot be separately charged for refusing a blood test.
If you are facing DUI charges, whether or not you submitted to a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test, it is important that you hire an experienced Florida DUI attorney as soon as possible. You have only 10 days from the date of arrest to request a hearing regarding the possible suspension of your drivers license. DUI charges are complicated to defend, and I do not recommend going it alone. A former prosecutor, I have the skills, experience, and tenacity to defend you against a DUI charge. For example, I can assess whether the arresting officer had probable cause to stop you and whether the BAC test is valid, and raise other challenges to the evidence presented against you.
Facing Florida DUI Charges? Contact DUI Defense Attorney Jody L. Fisher Today
If you are facing DUI charges in Florida, call DUI defense attorney Jody L. Fisher. Contact our office today for an initial consultation. From my office in Leesburg, I represent people throughout Central-Florida. You can reach us at (352) 503-4111, or complete our online form.