Court Upholds Non-Consensual Blood Draw of California Probationer

A California appellate court recently upheld the blood-draw of a California man on probation after he refused his consent to the blood draw. According to the court’s opinion, a police officer stopped the defendant after he allegedly observed the defendant driving fast and crossing partially into another lane. The officer began to follow the defendant as he ran a stop sign, nearly hitting a pedestrian.

After the defendant was stopped, he refused to take a breath or alcohol test, and the officer brought the defendant to the police station to obtain a search warrant to take the defendant’s blood. The officer then learned that the defendant was on probation for a DUI offense, and the officer took the defendant to the hospital to draw his blood without obtaining a warrant. The defendant objected, but the officer had the defendant’s blood drawn, and the result showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.157 percent.

The defendant was charged with driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more within 10 years of a prior DUI felony conviction, driving under the influence of alcohol within 10 years of a prior DUI felony conviction, driving with a suspended license, and resisting arrest. The defendant argued that he did not consent to the blood draw, and that his blood was taken in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, citizens have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, including blood draws. Accordingly, searches must reasonable, which is determined by weighing an individual’s right to privacy against the government’s need in promoting legitimate governmental interests.

A search conducted without a warrant is per se unreasonable, and can only be lawful if it falls under certain stated exceptions. One exception to the warrant requirement is if the defendant provides consent, freely and voluntarily. Even if consent is given, a search must be conducted within the scope of the consent given. In the context of probation, a person on probation may consent to a warrantless search in exchange for being placed on probation in lieu of prison. The policy rationale is that warrantless searches allow probation officers to monitor probationers are in compliance with the terms of their probation.

In this case, the defendant was on probation for a previous DUI, and was informed that he was subject to searches at any time and without a warrant, including chemical testing at the request of a peace or probation officer. The defendant also signed a form stating that he agreed to submit to a blood test if arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol as part of his personal probation conditions. Therefore, the court held that the defendant had already given his consent, and that the search did not violate the Fourth Amendment and the seizure of his blood was lawful.

Have You Been Arrested for DUI?

If you have been arrested for a California DUI offense, especially if it is a repeat DUI, a conviction can have serious and long-lasting effects on your life. Consequences may include a driver’s license suspension, substantial fines, and jail time, as well as a criminal record. The law office of John W. Noonan has represented thousands of clients facing repeat DUI charges in the East Bay. Attorney Noonan has over 55 years of experience and is certified in criminal law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Contact us at 925-479-0033 or reach us online to speak with an experienced DUI attorney.

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