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Are Police Allowed to Draw Blood from an Accident Suspect?

By San Diego Attorney on September 6, 2017

When a video of a Utah nurse being arrested for refusing to give a blood sample of an unconscious patient to the police went viral in August, it sparked conversations around the country. Many hoped that nurses in their state would be just as committed to the law as the nurse in Salt Lake City.

What are the laws in southern California on drawing blood from a DUI suspect?

Truthfully, they are confusing.


The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution gives every American protection from unlawful searches and seizures. It also states that if law enforcement agencies have probable cause that the person in question has broken the law, they must obtain a search warrant before taking further action. Under this amendment, it seems that police must either have a warrant or written consent before taking blood samples from a suspect.


But when referring to someone suspected of committing a crime such as driving under the influence, the law is not as clear. This is because in California, there are “implied consent” laws. These laws state that anyone with a driver’s license has already provided implied consent to testing if there is probable cause to think they are driving under the influence. Testing could include not only blood tests, but also breath tests and urine tests.

Law enforcement agencies are required to provide the suspected person with a choice of the type of testing. If the person is unconscious, as he was in the Utah case, the police have the authority to perform whichever test is most possible. In most cases, this would be a blood test.

Do Not Forget…

California suspects do not even have the right to an attorney before a blood test is administered. And if the person refuses to allow testing to be done before speaking to an attorney, that refusal could also be used against him or her in court.

What Is the Final Word?

It is easy to see why the laws in Southern California are so muddled when they pertain to drawing blood from a DUI suspect. The Fourth Amendment clearly states that a warrant must be present before any tests are administered or any blood is taken. But implied consent laws in California say differently…

If you are in this situation, it is best to allow police to administer the tests and then to speak to an attorney. An attorney may be able to prove that the test was unlawful, which means the test results will not be allowed in court.

If you have been in an accident and either refused a blood test or had a test taken illegally, contact JD Law. Lead attorney James N. Dicks is a board-certified criminal defense specialist and he knows the law surrounding DUIs and BAC testing. He fights hard to protect the rights of his clients, and he will fight for yours, too. Call him today at (760) 630-2000 and give yourself the best chance for a successful outcome in court.

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