Two recent Tennessee cases have dealt with the issue of blood draws in our state. Ever since, two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that warrantless blood draws are unconstitutional, there has been a flurry of activity in Tennessee trial courts (as well as every other state) on whether the police can draw someone’s blood without their consent or a warrant.
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Blood draws are a common practice in DUI enforcement. Proponents of them claim that they are a more accurate gauge of a driver’s alcohol level than a breath test. However, courts have ruled that sticking a needle in someone’s arm is a search. Generally, in order for a search to be legally valid, an officer needs a warrant, or a recognized exception like consent.
So what happens when police draw an accused citizen’s blood without his or her consent and without a warrant?
Tennessee law actually allows that in some cases. These so-called mandatory blood draws are allowed in cases of vehicular homicide while intoxicated, aggravated vehicular homicide, and for multiple DUI offenders.
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Two recent Tennessee appeals court cases looked at these laws, and ruled that while the statutes for mandatory blood draws are constitutional, in order for law enforcement to take a motorists blood without his or her consent or a warrant there must be exigent circumstances, or an emergency that justifies acting without a warrant.
So – if you have been charged with drunk driving in Memphis, and blood was taken without your consent, don’t just assume they can convict you. Contact Memphis DUI lawyer Patrick Stegall to see what options you have to fight the charge.