In most driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) cases in Florida, the police officer will ask the driver to consent to a breath, or breathalyzer, test which uses the driver’s breath to try and measure the driver’s blood alcohol content. The legal blood alcohol limit in Florida is 0.08. Also, normally, the police officer cannot request that a driver take a blood test to determine the driver’s blood alcohol content. The driver can request an independant blood alcohol test, but it is not something that the police officer typically mentions in a normal DUI investigation.
One exception is when the suspected drunk driver was involved in an accident with serious injuries or death that involves a hospital visit. In those cases, the police officer can request that the driver provide a blood sample to later test for alcohol content when the driver appears in the hospital for treatment and a urine or breath test is not practical. When a driver was involved in a serious accident involving injury or death, the police officer can request a blood draw to test for alcohol at the hospital.
What if the driver refuses, but the medical staff takes his/her blood for medical reasons? In a recent DUI case near Jacksonville, Florida, a driver was involved in a single vehicle accident and was taken to the hospital. The responding police officer suspected that the driver was impaired by alcohol and requested a blood sample to test for blood alcohol at the hospital. The driver refused to provide a blood sample for blood alcohol testing, but the hospital staff did take blood for medical reasons. Later, the State subpoenaed the blood taken by the hospital and all blood test results performed by the hospital.
The criminal defense lawyer for the DUI case objected saying the medical blood tests were not admissible because the driver refused and the implied consent law does not allow the State to force a blood alcohol test. However, the court disagreed with the criminal defense attorney and allowed the State to obtain the blood alcohol results that were done for medical purposes from the hospital and use them at the DUI trial against the defendant.
As a result, the State has two ways to get blood to test for a driver’s blood alcohol level after a serious accident. The police officer can request a blood sample and the driver agrees, or the State can later get blood test results from the hospital via a subpoena if the hospital takes blood and tests it for medical purposes.