In most DUI cases in Jacksonville and throughout Florida, the police officer allegedly observes the driver violate some traffic law and pulls him/her over. Once the police officer approaches and interacts with the driver, the officer observes some signs of impairment from alcohol and ultimately requests that the driver submit to a breathalyzer test where the driver blows into the machine which purportedly measures the driver’s blood alcohol content.
However, in some cases, the police officer can force the driver to submit to a blood test to measure the driver’s blood alcohol content. Most of the time, the forced blood draw cases involve accidents where the driver is seriously injured and unable to blow into the breathalyzer machine. However, an accident is not required for a forced blood draw in a DUI case. What the police and the state do need to establish is that, 1) the police officer had reason to believe the driver was driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, 2) the driver appears at a hospital or other medical facility for treatment and 3) a breath or urine test is not feasible or the person cannot respond due to some physical or medical condition. If these factors are present, the police officer can request that a medical provider take the blood.
In some cases, the police get the blood, but the required elements are not met. For instance, maybe a person was involved in an accident that rendered him unconscious and the officer smelled alcohol on him. That alone is not sufficient to meet the first requirement that there is sufficient reason to believe the person was impaired by alcohol while driving. Another example would be a person who was injured but not seriously enough to make a breath or urine test impracticable.
Florida law does allow a police officer to force a blood test to measure a person’s blood alcohol content in a DUI case. However, if the legal requirements are not met, the results of that blood test can be thrown out of court after the proper motion is filed by the criminal defense lawyer.