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The Right to Obtain Blood Samples for DUI Charges

BloodSample-300x200The driver of a vehicle is involved in an automobile crash in Palm Beach County, FL. The driver is injured, but no one else was involved in the accident. An alert motorist calls 911 to report the accident and requests medical care to the location. Police and fire rescue show up at the scene of the accident. While the fire rescue personal are removing the driver, they notice the smell of alcohol coming from the immobilized driver. Fire rescue provides this information to the investigation police officer, who notes the information and begins the DUI investigation.

The driver is transported to Wellington Hospital, where she is examined in the emergency room for head injuries and as “standard” protocol her blood is taken. The driver is released that evening, because her injuries do not require hospitalization. But her blood is left behind in the hospital, which was taken as “medical” blood pursuant to hospital protocol.

The law enforcement officers working the West Palm Beach DUI crash, unbeknownst to the driver, gets a warrant to “secure” the driver’s medical blood for DUI testing. The driver is fully recovered from her motor vehicle crash and is back at work, when a Palm Beach County Sheriff shows up at her place of employment to discuss her recent automobile crash. The female driver is embarrassed to have a cop show up at her place of employment, scared and afraid of what is happening. The young female driver is even shaky and upset, while talking to the Palm Beach County Sheriff about the crash.

The questions seem friendly, like were you the driver? Where were you coming from? What caused you to go off the road and hit the palm tree? Can I see your driver’s license? Do you still live at the same location? How long have you owned the car? Nice car, the Deputy quips, was it a total wreck? Yes, the car was reliable “no problems” so, “I purchased another Honda” the young lady spouts. With this information, the Deputy says okay, I am done here, have a great day.

Two weeks later, the blood results come back from the FDLE Lab. The “medical drawn” results reveal a Blood Alcohol Level greater than the Florida legal limit of .08. The Deputy Sheriff armed with his evidence of a blood alcohol level greater than .08, now issues an arrest warrant for the young female driver and goes back to her place of employment and arrests her for DUI causing a crash with severe bodily injury.

The young lady is in shock because the nice police officer, who spoke to her two weeks early, never told her that he was rooting through her medical records and taking her blood from the hospital. The young lady is booked at the Gun Club jail. But before the booking process, the Deputy Sheriff reads the young lady her Miranda Rights and because she already told the officer everything two weeks prior; she again tells the officer the same things over again.

The issue that comes up a lot is whether or not the taking of the “medical” blood is legal or a violation of the driver’s constitutional rights to privacy? In Florida, when a driver is issued a driver’s license he or she implies through the use of their driving privileges to have their blood drawn if their breath test for alcohol is impractical or impossible to obtain usually due to a medical emergency. But here the issue becomes, as to whether the blood sample was obtained through a method other than the “implied consent” laws? If yes, what are the consequences?

First, under Florida Law alcohol test results may be obtained through several methods, like medical blood, which is outside implied consent for the purposes of a DUI prosecution. Under Florida Law, if a driver is admitted to a medical facility and the administration of a breath test for the purposes of determining the BAC is impractical or impossible, than the medical blood may be obtained for the criminal investigation to determine if the driver had a blood alcohol level above, the legal limit of .08 when the crash occurred. So yes, the blood results are and may be taken outside the “implied consent” laws. If the blood alcohol results were obtained outside the “implied consent” laws, then does that make the results legal and admissible in the DUI trial or are there consequences that keep the result out of court?

The driver will argue that her privilege to her medical blood, medical records, medical doctor, and her medical confidentiality was breached and violated when the deputy sheriff obtained her “medical blood” from the hospital with a search warrant. The Assistant State Attorney prosecuting the DUI case will likely argue that under Fla. Stat. S. 27.04 the State has a right to subpoena medical records including the driver’s blood. Prosecutors understand how critical it is to introduce a computer reading showing the presumption that the driver is above the legal limit of .08 and thus, impaired.  However, West Palm Beach DUI Lawyer, Andrew D. Stine, argues that the facts here of the young lady involved in the crash fall under Fla. Stat. S. 395.3025 and State v. Wenger, 560 So. 2d 347.

West Palm Beach Criminal DUI lawyer, Andrew D. Stine, would argue that the Deputy Sheriff did not give “proper notice to the patient or her legal representative” and therefore under the previous mentioned Florida laws, the test results should be suppressed. Because under Florida Laws, it is clear that “blood samples drawn for medical treatment purposes that are later obtained by the State Attorney pursuant to subpoena powers, without proper notice being given to the patient defendant or her legal representative, which the State seeks to introduce into evidence to proof the DUI, is in violation of the privilege and confidential status given to the patient’s medical records, tests and medical treatment under the laws of Florida.” In the end, the blood results will be suppressed!

Dissecting a DUI is no easy task, when you want to stay out of jail and keep your driver’s license. If you or loved one has been arrested in West Palm Beach for DUI, DUI Crash, DUI Causing Injury or Property Damage or any other DUI related matter then call West Palm Beach DUI Lawyer Andrew D. Stine. West Palm DUI Attorney Andrew D. Stine has been personally fighting DUI cases throughout Palm Beach, FL for well over a decade with a winning trial record to prove it. Hire Stine and only pay a FINE!

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