Can Arizona Law Enforcement Force a Motorist to Take a Blood Test?

Seeing the red and blue lights of a police cruiser in the rear-view mirror is among the worst fears for many motorists, especially those who have had a few drinks. Part of what makes getting pulled over for an Arizona DUI so nerve-wracking is the knowledge gap between police officers who do this every day, and motorists who may have never been pulled over before. Learning about motorists’ rights, and the procedure that police must follow when executing an Arizona DUI stop, may put some of these anxieties to rest.

One of the most common questions is whether a police officer can require a motorist to give their blood for a blood test. The short answer is no, however, the question is really more complicated. By obtaining an Arizona driver’s license, motorists agree to consent to blood testing at the request of police. This is referred to as implied consent. However, police officers cannot physically require a person to submit to a blood test.

Thus, under Arizona DUI law, all motorists agree to undergo testing at the request of police. However, if a motorist refuses testing, the police cannot physically force them to give blood. The only way that police can physically force a suspect to give blood is if they obtain a warrant. However, in practice, warrants are rarely obtained in DUI cases.

A recent state appellate decision illustrates the procedures police may follow if a driver is unwilling to consent to a blood draw and they decide to obtain a warrant. It is important to keep in mind that an officer must establish that there is probable cause for a DUI arrest before they can obtain a warrant.

According to the court’s opinion, an officer pulled over the defendant for several traffic violations. Upon interacting with the defendant, the officer noticed his speech was slurred and he seemed intoxicated. The officer noted that the defendant had “bloodshot, watery eyes,” and a strong “odor of intoxicants” coming from him. The officer also noticed that the defendant’s 13-year-old daughter was in the passenger seat.

The defendant refused to consent to a blood draw, so the officer obtained a warrant. However, the defendant continued to resist, telling the officer “you are not going to take my blood,” as he clenched his fists. The defendant’s conduct, along with the fact that he had “hard veins” resulted in several nurses unsuccessfully trying to take his blood. Eventually, the defendant’s blood was taken, indicating he was under the influence. The defendant appealed his conviction based on the numerous failed attempts to take his blood, but the court affirmed his conviction because the failed attempts were not due to the nurse’s mistake, but the defendant’s conduct and his “hard veins” were the result of intravenous drug use.

Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI?

If you have recently been arrested for an Arizona DUI, contact Attorney James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a knowledgeable Tempe DUI attorney with extensive experience handling all types of DUI offenses. To learn more about how Attorney Novak can help you defend against the charges you face, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation today.

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