What Are My Fourth Amendment Rights When it Comes to Taking a Blood Sample During a DUI Arrest?

Each and every person in the United States has constitutional rights that cannot be taken away from them without due process. One of the most important rights is the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
Unreasonable search and seizure means that evidence for any kind of prosecution or case may not be gathered unreasonably, and through a violation of privacy. A person’s car, home, or personal space may not be searched without reasonable cause.

This does not mean that officers may not obtain evidence from a person’s home, vehicle or private space. It means that they must first obtain a warrant. To obtain a warrant they must present their evidence to a judge and demonstrate that there is a strong probability that the evidence they are searching for exists in that person’s personal space and they have a valid reason to violate their privacy, despite the person’s Fourth Amendment rights. If evidence is obtained with a warrant, it is obtained reasonably.

If evidence is obtained unreasonably by officers, the evidence will be suppressed. This means that the Prosecutor may not use it as evidence against the person in trial, and the Court may not consider it as evidence, and must prove their case without it.
There are certain exceptions to a person’s fourth amendment rights. One such exception exists when officers can demonstrate that if they had not acted quickly, and not waited for a warrant, then the evidence would be destroyed. For example, if officers see a man purchase a big bag of cocaine and see him run into a home. They can follow him into the home and obtain the bag of cocaine. They can do this without violating his Fourth Amendment rights because if they had not acted quickly and followed him, the bag of cocaine would have surely been destroyed.

In Los Angeles DUI cases, an officer may not obtain a blood alcohol test from a person if they have not consented. If there is no consent, they must obtain a warrant. If the officer takes blood, without consent, and without warrant, then they have violated the person’s Fourth Amendment rights and the blood sample will be suppressed.

In DUI cases, officers have often made the argument that there is an exigent circumstance to be able to obtain a blood sample without a warrant, because if they do not act quickly to draw a sample, the alcohol in the blood will dissipate.

It has been ruled in the past that this is not a valid exception to violate a person’s Constitutional rights. In order to draw a blood sample, without consent, for the purposes of a DUI, the officer must first obtain a warrant. If the person refuses to give a blood or a breath sample, then they may still be charged with a DUI, and may face potentially harsher consequences for having a refusal. It is best to consult with a Los Angeles DUI Professional to learn all your available options!