Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona DUI case affirming the defendant’s conviction. The case required the court to determine if police were required to obtain a warrant before taking the defendant’s blood. Ultimately, because the defendant gave his consent for the blood draw, the court determined that no warrant was necessary.
Consent is one of the primary ways that law enforcement officers are able to take a motorist’s blood. Under the state and federal constitutions, police officers need to have a warrant before they can conduct a “search” of a person. Courts have held that a blood draw constitutes a search, and thus, police officers need to obtain a warrant before taking a blood sample. However, no warrant is necessary if a motorist provides their consent to the blood draw. And given the administrative penalties associated with refusing to comply with a request for a blood draw, many motorists end up consenting to a blood test.
Providing consent to an Arizona blood draw can raise several issues. Most importantly, consent must be validly given to be effective. In other words, police cannot coerce a motorist into giving their consent by making threats. Additionally, even if a motorist gives consent, they are allowed to change their minds and revoke consent at any time. If consent is revoked, then the police officers must go through the proper channels to obtain a warrant. Notably, the U.S. Supreme Court has recently issued some important decisions which made some significant changes to this area of the law.