Illegal Blood Draw in a DUI Case

Phoenix Lawyer Defending People Charged with Drunk Driving

Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, you have a right to be protected from illegal searches and seizures, which can occur in a home, car or your body. Determining whether or not a blood draw is lawful requires a complex legal analysis. If you are concerned about an illegal blood draw in a DUI case, please contact Phoenix DUI attorney James Novak for a confidential consultation.

Illegal Blood Draw in a DUI Case

In Phoenix, persons arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) implicitly consent to alcohol or drug testing. Under Arizona Revised Statues (A.R.S.) section 28-1321, if you operate a motor vehicle in Arizona, you implicitly consent to the testing of your urine, breath or blood for purposes of assessing alcohol concentration or drug content. These tests may only be administered at the direction of an officer who reasonably believes that you were intoxicated while driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in Arizona.

Warrantless searches of your breath, blood, or urine are reasonable under the Fourth Amendment if you voluntarily consent under Arizona’s implied consent law. If you refuse a chemical test, your license or permit may be suspended.

Because drawing blood is considered a more intrusive bodily invasion than a breath test, these searches are subject to greater constraints. A blood draw for purposes of a DUI investigation requires either consent or a search warrant. If you have not provided consent and the police have not obtained a search warrant, the officers may only move forward if exigent circumstances exist allowing a blood draw without permission.

When determining whether a blood draw is illegal, the court will examine: (1) whether the police were justified in demanding you submit to the blood test and (2) whether the procedures and means used to take your blood abided by the pertinent standards of what’s reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. For example, if the police obtained your blood through a search warrant, the results of the test may be admissible. However, if it was inappropriate for the police to pull you over in the first place because they lacked reasonable suspicion to believe that you were driving drunk, your lawyer may argue that the Fourth Amendment requires the suppression of the blood draw results.

Exception for Unconsciousness

If you were delirious or unconscious, an exception to the general rule that requires a warrant for a blood draw may apply. Under A.R.S. section 28-1321, if officers find you unconscious, dead or otherwise in a condition that renders you incapable of refusal, you are deemed not to have withdrawn the consent implicitly given by law.

Blood draws obtained while you are under medical care can also proceed under other exceptions to the rule requiring a warrant. The police can ask for a DUI blood sample if your blood is drawn by Phoenix healthcare professionals for medical reasons. In this circumstance, the government would need to establish exigent circumstances, probable cause, or medical reasons the blood was drawn and that the blood draw was performed in accordance with the defendant’s right to direct medical care.

Motion to Suppress

Prior to trial, you may be able to bring a motion to suppress the results of an illegal blood draw. The court will examine the totality of the circumstances to decide whether the blood draw was reasonable within the Fourth Amendment’s meaning. If your motion to suppress illegal blood draw evidence is successful, the results of the blood draw will not be admitted into your DUI trial. Alternatively, the prosecutor may be more amenable to negotiating a deal or dismissing the charges altogether where illegal blood draw evidence has been suppressed.

Consult a Seasoned DUI Attorney in Phoenix

If the police performed an illegal blood draw in a DUI case, a driver should discuss their circumstances with a tenacious criminal defense lawyer. They may have a constitutional basis for challenging the legality of the blood draw and the charges as a whole. Our principal James Novak has many years of experience defending clients charged with DUI in the Phoenix, Gilbert, Tempe, Chandler and Mesa, as well as throughout Maricopa County. Call him at (480) 413-1499 or contact him through our online form.

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