Recently, an appeal of a DUI case was heard by the Arizona Supreme Court. The court is being asked to decide if a blood draw from an individual suspected of drunk driving was constitutional under the Fourth Amendment. The decision, which will come at a later point in time, could have a significant impact upon DUI arrests and procedures in Arizona.
Some Valley residents might be aware that for several years now, police officers throughout Maricopa County have been conducting blood draws, without warrants, on people they have placed under arrest for DUI. Others may not be aware that the large Phoenix PD vans you see parked on the side of the road are actually mini-blood draw stations where arrestees are interviewed, pricked, and had their blood removed from their bodies by officers within a limited time of arrest. Furthermore, these blood draws aren't just done in vans or at police stations, during DUI Task force events, arrestees are taken to any number of bizarre places throughout the valley like sports stadiums and gas stations, where a myriad of arrestees are waiting in line like cattle to have their blood drawn and packaged up and handed over to the impatiently waiting police officers who arrested them. Until now, Scottsdale was one of the jurisdictions that, if you were arrested there, you were generally taken to the hospital to have your blood drawn by a phlebotomist, who was usually a hospital nurse. (A phlebotomist is a person who has been trained in drawing blood). However, Scottsdale has recently put some of its officers through a five day phlebotomy class, and arrestees in Scottsdale will no longer have the luxury of being escorted to the hospital and drawn on by a professional. But, just because the officers have the capability to draw your blood, does not mean that you should necessarily immediately consent to the blood draw. If you are arrested for DUI, before you consent to any physical or chemical testing, you should ask for a private phone call and call an experienced attorney immediately. The officers will make it seem like you have no choice, but in reality, you do have a legal right to speak with an attorney as long as you are not unduly delaying an investigation. We are available 24/7.
Time and time again in Arizona DUI cases, I have seen a very real, recurring problem in the blood testing that occurs to determine the BAC (blood alcohol content) of the person accused of a DUI. The problem lies with the amount of blood drawn from the person.
What happens if I don't want to give blood, breath, or urine to an Arizona police officer during a DUI investigation? Well, in Arizona, by getting an Arizona driver's license, or even by driving on our streets, you have given your consent to submit to a police officer's request for a blood, breath or urine sample. Ask any experienced DUI defense attorney how many low BACs (from .000 to .05) they see in the lists of the state's blood test results, and you'll understand how many people are being forced to give a sample of their blood to police officers every day in Arizona. And there are consequences if you refuse to submit a sample.