Understanding Your Rights When Police Ask For a Blood Test
Recently, we used this space to discuss the issue of search warrants and the threshold of evidence that constitutes probable cause. Furthermore, we addressed the matter as it related to an incident involving a nurse and the police that made national news when police attempted to obtain a blood sample without a warrant from an unconscious patient in a Utah hospital. Here, we wish to provide a little more detail as it pertains to your rights should you find yourself in a similar situation.
The problem in Utah began when an unconscious car crash victim was transported to the hospital. Another victim died as a result of the wreck, and police were conducting an investigation into the cause of the accident. Police believed they had “implied consent” to obtain a blood sample from the surviving victim.
Rulings on Blood Tests
The courts have ruled on the issue of obtaining blood samples for testing by law enforcement, and hospitals and other healthcare facilities have established firm guidelines for employees which protect a patient’s rights while adhering to the law. In the recent Utah case, the hospital required that one or more of the following criteria be met prior to drawing blood from a patient for law enforcement:
- The police must have an authorized search warrant stipulating a blood sample.
- The patient must be placed under arrest.
- The patient must give informed consent.
None of the three criteria were met, yet police persisted, and the nurse on duty was placed in handcuffs and temporarily detained by police despite following both hospital policy and the law. The nurse was subsequently released without being charged, and two police officers involved are serving suspensions.
In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that :
- Laws requiring blood tests violated the 4th Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches.
- Blood tests were “significantly more intrusive,” than, in the case of a DUI investigation, a breath test.
- A blood sample contains more information about an individual than just their blood alcohol content, and this information goes beyond the scope of the investigation underway.
- A person must provide consent to have blood drawn as part of a police investigation.
Retain the Services of an Experienced Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney
The best defense against criminal charges begins when you contact a criminal defense attorney committed to protecting your rights and freedom. Work with a knowledgeable Joliet defense lawyer to better understand the charges you may be facing, as well as all your available options. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba will conduct a meticulous review of your case and build a defense strategy designed to produce the best possible result.