If a person is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, a blood alcohol test may be requested by authorities. Although suspects have the right to refuse a blood draw, a refusal could result in a suspension of their driver’s license in addition to other consequences. If a suspect is unconscious, they no longer have the ability to refuse the blood test, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that authorities must obtain a warrant to perform a blood draw on anyone unresponsive. Drunk driving cases across the state may be impacted by the ruling.
The ruling resulted after one man’s case continued through the court system to the highest court. Allegedly, after being pulled over for possibly drunk driving, the police officer recognized his level of intoxication required medical attention. Allegedly, the smell of alcohol was very strong on the man, and a bottle of liquor was discovered on his driver’s seat.
When police arrived at the hospital to administer a blood alcohol test, the man was unconscious as a result of his medical treatment. Allegedly, the officer read the man his rights to refuse the blood draw, but the man did not respond. The test was performed despite his unconscious state. The state Supreme Court judges upheld the ruling that the blood draw could not be used in the man’s criminal case, and a warrant should have been obtained to perform it.
Drunk driving can result in fines, loss of a license and possible jail time. After an arrest a defendant may find it beneficial to have someone advocating on his or her behalf to ensure that all applicable legal rights are protected. Criminal defense attorneys in Pennsylvania can advise defendants of the best defense strategy for each unique situation.
Source: pennlive.com, “Cops can’t take warrantless blood draws from unconscious DUI suspects, Pa. Supreme Court rules“, Matt Miller, July 19, 2017