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Forced Blood Draws: Citizen Backlash?


I’ve posted in the past about the growing practice of forcefully taking blood from drunk driving suspects in the field when they refuse to submit to breath testing.  See, for example, Taking Blood by Force; for a forced urine sample, see Catheter Forced Up Penis After DUI Arrest.  In some states, this requires a search warrant (usually readily obtainable from a judge standing by for this purpose); in others, cops are free to forcefully have blood taken when they wish.  And in a growing number of states, including here in California, cops actually jab the needles into restrained suspects themselves — in the back seats or on the hoods of cars.  See Blood Draws in the Back Seat by the Dashboard Light and Forced Blood Draws by Cops Spreading.

I keep waiting for the citizens of this country to wake up to the terrible constitutional costs of MADD’s hysterical "War on Drunk Driving".  Perhaps it’s finally beginning….

PBSO Plans To Draw Blood At DUI Checkpoints

Some Drivers Feel Blood Tests ‘Invasive’

West Palm Beach, FL.  Feb. 20  —  Drunken drivers beware: If you drink and drive, especially during the last weekend of February, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and other area law enforcement will be out for blood.

PBSO deputies plan to set up driving under the influence checkpoints. If they suspect a driver is under the influence, they’ll offer an on-the-spot Breathalyzer. If drivers refuse, deputies will ask to draw blood from their arms.

"I think that’s really personal and I think that if you deny a Breathalyzer and you say that you don’t want that, I think that’s outrageous if they take blood without your consent," driver Courtney Liddle said…

(If the suspect refuses a blood draw, deputies will) drive to a judge’s home for a signature (on a warrant) and return to the checkpoint.

A few days later, an editorial response….

Pulling Blood at DUI Stops a Heavy-Handed Fishing Expedition

West Palm Beach, FL.  Feb. 26  —  Drunk driving is a serious, deadly crime. Too many people do it, and many are getting away with it, until, of course, tragedy strikes. So law enforcement officials are right to be aggressive in pursuing drunk drivers.

But not to the point that they leave skid marks all over American rights and freedoms.

And that’s exactly what the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office plan to seek blood samples at DUI checkpoints smells like — a big doughnut hole burned into the U.S. Constitution.

Florida law recognizes a motorist’s right to refuse a breath test. But the driver faces serious consequences for that refusal, including immediate arrest and the possible suspension of his license.

Now, the Sheriff’s Office wants to override that delicate balance by forcing anyone refusing a breath test to submit a blood sample, on the spot, at a location central to three DUI saturation patrols being set up across the county Feb. 27 and 28. And it’s applying for a search warrant from an on-call judge to order it.

Talk about a heavy-handed fishing expedition. Why not just tackle drivers to the ground and pull their hair out for DNA testing?

And the next day, after the planned DUI roadblocks and forced blood draws…

Suspects Refuse to Give Blood in DUI Crackdown in Palm Beach County

West Palm Beach, FL.  Mar. 1  — Twenty-six people were arrested Friday night on DUI charges, according to Capt. William Kenny, head of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office traffic division. At least four refused to submit to a blood test, the latest tool officials planned to employ against drunken driving.

The Sheriff’s Office, working closely with the State Attorney’s Office, sparked controversy when it decided to seek a judge-approved search warrant to take blood from anyone who appeared drunk and refused a breath test.

Opponents argue that forced blood tests violate Florida statute. But State Attorney Michael McAuliffe said other Florida counties upheld the techniques and the uproar was "much ado about nothing."

"I am not sure what the controversy is," McAuliffe told officers before the patrol. "Investigating and prosecuting DUI cases is a high priority. If we can employ techniques proven and used in two areas in this state, I am all for it."

So were members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who rode along on patrols in support.

"I don’t understand the controversy," said Connie Beard, from Central Florida, whose son Matthew was killed in 2006 by a drunken driver on I-95. "I hear people say what about their civil liberties? Where were my son’s civil liberties?" she said…

Still, when it came down to it, the State Attorney’s Office decided not to forcibly take blood and no blood samples were drawn Friday night. The State Attorney’s Office would not comment on its decision…

Apparently, law enforcement officials were getting nervous at the unexpected backlash. 

Incidentally, did you notice that members of MADD "rode along on patrols in support"?  Do you think that might have any effect on the officers’ decisions?  Can you imagine members of the ACLU being permitted to "ride along in support"?

The post Forced Blood Draws: Citizen Backlash? appeared first on Law Offices of Taylor and Taylor - DUI Central.

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