The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled on the side of a woman convicted in
a drunk driving case. The court ruling means that Arizona will no longer
allow involuntary DUI evidence to be used against a DUI defendant. The
woman's case was overturned and her case will be retried with this
September Court of Appeals Ruling
The ruling states that prosecutors are unable to use blood alcohol tests
that were obtained without a warrant, specifically in cases where they
are given the option of being arrested or going to the hospital.
This decision stems from the case of a woman charged with drunk driving
in Yavapai County. She hit a guardrail with her vehicle. When an officer
arrived on the scene, the officer told her to go to the hospital. When
the woman refused, the officer informed the woman that she would be arrested
if she did not comply. The blood alcohol test done at the hospital indicated
that her blood alcohol level was well above the legal limit.
Because a warrant was not obtained to administer the blood test and because
the woman did not voluntarily consent to going to the hospital to obtain
treatment, the test results were eventually ruled inadmissible in court.
August Supreme Court Ruling
An August decision by the Arizona Supreme Court may have led to this decision.
The Supreme Court ruled that unless an officer obtains a warrant, a suspected
drunk driver cannot be forced to take a blood test without their consent.
The Pima County Attorney's Office had tried to claim that implied consent
to blood, breath, or other tests is given when a person is licensed by
the state to drive. The Supreme Court disagreed, and established that
clear and voluntary consent must be given or else it is considered an
illegal search on the part of the officer.
The Supreme Court took it a step further to note that for juveniles, consent
is not absolute. While the court did not rule that parents must be present
to give consent, it means that officers should obtain a warrant for a
blood draw instead of relying on the absolute consent of a juvenile.
These rulings highlight an important part of any DUI conviction. An officer
that oversteps these bounds is breaking the law that they are meant to
uphold and may place the future of the accused in danger as a result of
Contact a criminal defense lawyer if an officer did not respect your rights
in a DUI case.