In a recent DUI case near Jacksonville, Florida, the police obtained evidence that a driver was intoxicated while driving after an accident. When the police officer arrived at the scene of the accident, the defendant was not hurt and did not appear to be intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. As a result, the police did not have probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI. However, the police officer did ask the driver if he would submit to a blood test that would test his blood for alcohol and drugs. The driver agreed, and the blood alcohol test came back positive.
The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress the results of the blood alcohol test because the police officer did not comply with the Florida implied consent law. The Florida implied consent law says that when a person agrees to accept the privilege of driving in Florida, he/she also agrees to submit to a test of his/her blood or breath when lawfully arrested for DUI. However, as part of the implied consent law, the police officer is obligated to inform the suspect that the suspect is only required to submit to a breathe or urine test, not a blood test. The police officer in this case did not inform the suspect that the blood test was not required. However, the court denied the criminal defense lawyer’s motion to suppress the evidence of the blood test. The court stated that this was not a case where the implied consent law was implicated because there was no evidence the driver was intoxicated and he was not under arrest at the time. This was simply a case where the police officer asked the driver to voluntarily submit to a blood alcohol test and the driver agreed.
The driver in this case should have been aware that he could have refused the police officer’s request for the blood alcohol test. If he had refused and the police officer arrested him and/or had him take the blood alcohol test anyway, the results would likely have been thrown out of court because the the police officer did not have sufficient evidence to believe that the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol.
As in a lot of cases, whether they are DUI cases or drug cases, the police must have specific evidence of criminal activity before they take evidence and conduct searches and seizures. However, if the police officer asks for consent and the suspect agrees, the police officer can do a lot of things he/she would not otherwise be permitted to do based on a lack of evidence.