Citizens are generally aware of the fact that the police does not have the right to barge into your home to search your possessions and property without a warrant. Unless they approach through a proper channel after obtaining a warrant, they have no right by law to force an act upon you.
However, several people remain unaware of the Fourth Amendment rights in cases of chemical testing. Many times, individuals go through a blood test mainly because they fear the repercussions they will have to face if they refuse.
People fear facing certain penalties, such as DUI charges issuance or immediate suspension of their driver’s license. We have also seen documentation of the police forcing individuals to give blood samples without consent, on account of suspected intoxication.
Once you get behind the wheel, it is best to drive only when you have complete knowledge of DWI and DUI protocols. Should the need arise, you will at least know what the right course of action would be for your defense. Be advised that a DWI Lawyer is what you need in such cases.
No matter the scenario, does the law require police to obtain a warrant before taking a person’s blood test?
Let’s look at some stats to deduce the answer to this. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled out that police can force individuals for a blood test because alcohol exits the blood after some time. It emphasized that the law did not provide any leverage to the police to take such an action.
Then in 2016, the court established laws that made it illegal to refuse a blood sample to an officer under a DUI arrest. The law stipulated that a police officer may take a breath test without a warrant, but if the individual does not consent to a blood test, the officer must obtain a warrant for it.
The only time an officer may take a blood test without a warrant is when they have strong arguments to prove they did not have sufficient time to wait for a warrant. In most cases, they are rarely any positive arguments where officers can justify forcing a blood test.
As the law stands, an individual’s blood is also a personal matter and one entitled to privacy. In terms of blood vs, breath, blood carries a lot of other information that individuals can analyze, misuse of even store for other purposes.
On the other hand, a breath test only delivers information pertinent to the situation at hand, which is the blood alcohol level in most cases. The court had also established that extracting blood is quite an intrusive act. On this basis, a warrant is necessary before forcing a suspect to a blood test.
A Forced Blood Test Violates the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment establishes certain principles for the United States Constitution. The law protects people’s right and their security in persons, papers, effects, and houses against unreasonable searches.
It does not provide law enforcement officers the authority to violate these rights unless they obtain a warrant. They can only issue a warrant upon probable causes, which they can support with affirmation or oath. Furthermore, a warrant is only legitimate and allowed after the officers describe the place they wish to search and the person and things they wish to seize under rightful suspicion.
The Fourth Amendment makes clear in no uncertain terms that it forbids most of the warrantless searches. But then there are also the exceptions for which the law makes provisions. The only situations where the Amendment allows the police to search or seize a person’s property include:
- A situation where they have solid arguments a forced blood test was necessary
- Automobile exception’
- Arrest based on reasonable suspicion
- Abandoned property
However, the Amendment makes no exceptions where it allows the officers to force individuals into submitting a blood test. The law enforcing officers or police can cite “implied consent” and present arguments of motorists consenting to chemical testing by virtue of driving.
In plain words, the act of forcing a suspect to a blood test has no support or green signal from the Supreme Court. The court states that drawing blood categorizes as a type of search in the light of the Fourth Amendment, which means the officers must follow the same protocols as other searches.
Under protocols, they must obtain a warrant and then proceed with the testing. If they act under critical conditions, then the officers must provide evidence of searching persons without a warrant. The pieces of evidence must cater to legitimate government interests without intruding the privacy of the individual held under suspicion.
Under no circumstance does the Supreme Court validate police officers’ authority forcing individuals to a blood test without a warrant. The Fourth Amendment categorizes blood test as a type of search, which means the officers cannot invade a person’s privacy until they have a legal warrant. While a breath test is mandatory even without a warrant, you can rest assured of your rights to refuse a forced blood sample in case you get pulled over at a traffic stop the next time.