There are a variety of legal protections that could be considered cornerstones of the American legal system. For example, individuals cannot be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures made by law enforcement officials, according to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a result of this, police must have probable cause or obtain a warrant before obtaining evidence from a suspect.
As we have covered in a previous blog post, Florida’s implied consent law may seem like a violation of this constitutional guarantee. Regardless of this perception, police still have the ability to ask those who they suspect of driving under the influence to take a breath test or face legal penalties. Blood evidence, on the other hand, may be treated differently.
In many cases, law enforcement officials may intend to obtain a blood sample after conducting a DUI arrest. Testing the blood for alcohol concentration is often seen as a way to build a strong case against defendants. As such, police might do whatever it takes to obtain this evidence. With this in mind, just how far will Florida law enforcement agencies go?
In the neighboring state of Georgia, officials have been exercising a new tactic in drunk driving cases — and it’s gaining attention. Judges in a couple jurisdictions have partnered with police to issue warrants for a blood draw after individuals refuse a breath test. In other words, police are working the system to obtain evidence.
Unsurprisingly, this policy isn’t sitting well with some people. In fact, one observer noted that the policy is a violation of civil liberties. Even with these hesitations, the practice is moving forward.
At this point, it’s not clear if this practice will move into other states. No matter what, this development serves as a critical reminder of how important it is to ensure that police don’t skirt the law for their own purposes. Taking this approach should render any illegally collected evidence inadmissible in a court of law.
Source: WSAV News, “New Policy of Forced Blood Tests Used in Conjunction with DUI Arrests,” JoAnn Merrigan, June 16, 2014