Your Guide to understanding the DUI blood test with medical treatment warrant exception.
A DUI blood test taken by Police for investigating impairment is considered a search and seizure, protected by our 4th Amendment rights.
There are exceptions to the requirement of a warrant. One of these exceptions under Arizona Law is DUI blood test or testing incidental to medical treatment.
Police can request a blood or chemical test be taken for criminal investigation reasons incidental to Medical Treatment.
This exception is often used following an accident, when the police suspect the driver may have been impaired due to alcohol or drugs.
If the police have probable cause, they can bypass a warrant, and request a DUI blood or chemical test from the medical provider treating the driver.
Under A.R.S. section 28-1388(E), if an Arizona police officer has probable cause to believe someone has violated the statute that prohibits driving under the influence (A.R.S. S 28-1381), and blood or another bodily substance is taken from that person, and enough of the sample that is sufficient for analysis will be provided to a police officer if requested for law enforcement objectives.
However, a DUI blood test cannot be requested by police if the suspect has expressly rejected medical care.
Precedent case rulings on this issue have held that if the treatment is not obtained voluntarily, than neither was the DUI blood test.
The scope of this exception was the subject of a recent Arizona appellate decision which we will discuss in this article.
DUI Testing with Medical Treatment in absence of a Warrant
[Arizona Court of Appeals Division 1 – No. 1 CA-CR 12-0780 10-20-15]
In this case, the defendant appealed from convictions for reckless manslaughter, endangerment, and possession of narcotic drugs. The defendant argued that the court shouldn’t have denied his motion to suppress his blood test results, which were secured for law enforcement objectives under A.R.S. section 28-1388(E).
The case arose when the defendant hurt four people and killed a pedestrian in a head-on collision while speeding in a residential area early one evening. Hospital personnel took blood from him, and the blood test results showed he was high on meth and heroin at the time of the crash. Witnesses later gave testimony about his erratic driving and related conduct.
The defendant was charged with second-degree murder, possession, or use of narcotics, and four counts of endangerment. All of these are felony counts. He made a motion to suppress the results of the blood test on the grounds that it was secured without probable cause or a warrant and that he had expressly refused medical care at the time.
At the hearing on the motion to suppress, the defendant did not testify, but the court heard testimony from six witnesses. The witnesses, who were police officers and paramedics, testified that a nurse was tending to the defendant when they arrived. He was flailing and screaming and wouldn’t answer questions. One officer had been an EMT before becoming a police officer and testified that the defendant’s speech was slurred and that she couldn’t understand him in his delirium. Another officer saw syringes and an uncapped needle inside the car.
The defendant aggressively pushed away the paramedics and tried to hit them with a closed fist. However, the paramedics testified that due to the severity of his injuries, they needed a doctor’s clearance to not take him to the hospital, and they couldn’t get that. They effectively transported him against his will. He continued to be aggressive in the ambulance. Another officer said his behavior was consistent with someone drunk or high.
At the hearing for the motion to suppress, the lower court found that while it was possible to view the defendant’s conduct as a rejection of medical care, it wasn’t enough to count as a clear, unambiguous rejection of medical treatment. Accordingly, the lower court denied the motion to suppress the blood test.
The jury found the defendant guilty, and he was sentenced to 15 years for the manslaughter, as well as three years of imprisonment on each of the other convictions. He appealed.
The appellate court explained that a blood draw is considered a search under the Fourth Amendment. There are three constitutionally permissible ways in which police can get a blood sample: (1) by showing probable cause and getting a warrant, (2) express or implied consent, and (3) the exception provided by A.R.S. section 28-1388(E) that allows a police officer with probable cause to take part of a blood sample taken for another reason. However, the third way cannot be used if someone unambiguously, clearly, and expressly exercises their constitutional right to refuse medical treatment.
The issues before the appellate court were (1) whether the State had probable cause to believe there was a violation of A.R.S. S 28-1381, and (2) whether there was an express refusal of medical treatment. The appellate court found that the testimony of the officers showed there was probable cause. It found that there was no evidence to show the police asked that the defendant be taken to the hospital. There were also no oral statements made by the defendant specifically asking not to get medical assistance. The conviction was affirmed. Read More > Continue reading