Arizona Supreme Court rules on DUI blood-test issue

Recent ruling in the Phoenix case of Joes Carillo: “The Arizona Supreme Court ruled this morning that, to collect blood from a person suspected of DUI, police must get specific consent from the suspect or get a search warrant…” Read the rest from NewtimesBlog.

Ariz. high court rules on DUI blood-test issue

Jun. 7, 2010 02:33 PM, Associated Press

In a decision that defense attorneys said respects the Fourth Amendment, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday that police must get a search warrant to take a blood sample from a DUI suspect unless the person clearly consents to providing a sample.

Phoenix prosecutors had argued in the case decided Monday that the state’s implied consent law permits police to take a blood sample from a DUI suspect not refusing to give one.

The Supreme Court said the state’s implied consent law does broadly state that a person who operates a motor vehicle consents to a blood test to determine alcohol concentration or drug content. But the law also has specific provisions that generally require police officers to get a warrant to draw a blood sample if they don’t get clear consent from the suspect, the justices said.

The ruling didn’t disturb the consent law’s provision that refusing to provide a blood sample subjects a DUI suspect to an automatic driver’s license suspension.

The Phoenix City Prosecutor’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but two defense attorneys said the ruling tells police that the only direct consequence of a DUI suspect not consenting to a blood draw is the license suspension.

“Hopefully it will be used as a teaching tool by police agencies and prosecuting agencies throughout the state,” said Nicole Farnum, the defense lawyer in the case.

Police can easily and quickly obtain a search warrant from judges on call, said Farnum and Joseph P. St. Louis, a Tucson defense attorney who helped prepare a legal brief in the case on behalf of a defense attorneys group.

“This is an ongoing issue,” St. Louis said. “We have law enforcement officers who don’t understand that people can say no to them. There’s a consequence if you do — but you can’t just take someone’s blood without their permission to do so.”

The case decided Monday involved a man who apparently didn’t object when officers took a blood sample as he sat on the steps of a police van after vomiting, court rulings in the case said.

According to the rulings, Jose Carrillo testified that he only spoke Spanish and that the officers did not speak to him in that language. He also said he did not consent to the blood draw but did not resist because he was afraid.

Officers said they communicated with Carrillo through gestures and some Spanish.

The Supreme Court’s ruling sent Carrillo’s case back to trial court to determine whether he clearly consented to the blood draw. However, Farnum said she believed her client was deported after being convicted of DUI and turned over to federal immigration authorities.