DUI Blood Tests Challenged
This week in Tallahassee lawyers for John Goodman (this John Goodman) are challenging the DUI blood testing protocols in a Florida administrative court. More here. Goodman’s lawyers argue that the testing methods the Florida Department of Law Enforcement use are not the same as what hospitals and doctors use when drawing and testing blood for alcohol content.
Goodman had his blood drawn within hours after causing a car accident that took the life of another motorist. His sample showed a blood alcohol content of .177. He was convicted of DUI manslaughter and sentenced to prison, however that conviction was thrown out due to juror misconduct.
Goodman is now back on trial, and his lawyers want his blood sample thrown out based on the way the blood was drawn and tested. Basically, the FDLE standards do not account for ruptured red blood cells and clotting, which Goodman’s lawyers say could alter the results.
If, and it’s a big if, the administrative court finds FDLE’s protocols deficient, it could mean DUI blood test will be tossed in other DUI cases throughout Florida.
So how often are blood samples taken in DUI cases?
Not very often. While the “driving privilege” requires your implied consent to a blood alcohol test, the law provides that this should be measured using a breath test.
Section 392.1932(1)(c) Florida Statutes says that a blood test should be done if:
[T]he person appears for treatment at a hospital, clinic, or other medical facility and the administration of a breath or urine test is impractical or impossible.
Additionally, Section 392.1933 Florida Statutes provides that a police officer may obtain a blood sample in a DUI crash causing death or serious injury, and “may use reasonable force if necessary to require such person to submit to the administration of the blood test”.
The police would need a warrant to obtain a blood sample in a misdemeanor DUI that did not cause death or serious injury. To get a warrant, the police have to show probable cause, and as recently as 2011, an appellate court ruled that a blood draw warrant cannot be based on probable cause that the suspect committed a misdemeanor DUI.
So, blood draws are only really seen (and challenged) in DUI cases causing death or serious injury.
We will be watching the Goodman case to see what happens with the blood draw protocols. If the administrative court invalidates FDLE’s blood draw protocols, it could mean blood results across the state will be inadmissible at trial.