Urine Test Thrown Out in DUI Case After Police Coercion
In Florida, when a person receives a driver's license, he/she is consenting to take a blood alcohol test if the police have a legal basis to request one during a proper DUI investigation and the police follow proper legal procedures. A person can refuse a breathalyzer, urine or blood test to check his/her alcohol level, but he/she may face a driver's license suspension as a result of that refusal. If a person refuses a breathalyzer, urine or blood alcohol test, the police officer may not use any coercive tactics to administer the test.
In a recent DUI case near Jacksonville, Florida, the defendant was stopped for failure to maintain his lane. After a DUI investigation, he was arrested and taken to the police station. The police officer asked if he would submit to the breathalyzer test. The defendant agreed, and the results were 0.00 both times the breathalyzer test was administered. The police officer still believed the defendant was impaired from alcohol and then asked for a urine test. The defendant initially refused the urine test, but the police officer asked repeatedly. Ultimately, the police officer threatened to take him to the hospital to get his urine with a catheter or to take a blood sample. The defendant finally agreed to the urine test.
The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress the results of the urine test alleging that the police officer used coercive tactics in obtaining the urine sample. The court agreed and threw out the evidence of the urine test. If a defendant under arrest for DUI refuses a breathalyzer or urine test, the police may be able to get a blood sample from the defendant but only with a proper search warrant. In this case, the police officer threatened the blood test to get the defendant to consent to the urine test. However, the police officer did not properly inform the defendant that he would need to get a search warrant for the blood first.
The failure to disclose the need for a search warrant was an improper show of authority by the police officer. As a result, the misleading threat was considered coercive, and the defendant's ultimate consent to a urine test as a result of the police officer's coercive tactics was ruled inadmissible in court.