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New Rulings on Warrantless DUI Blood Draws

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 new information.

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 this recklessness.

Contact a criminal defense lawyer if an officer did not respect your rights in a DUI case.