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Cops and DUI blood tests: Yes or no?

Posted Monday, September 14, 2009, at 2:42 PM

Almost every weekday I read police reports in which officers have put suspected drunken drivers through a series of tests such as standing on one leg and reciting the alphabet, then often giving them a breathalyer test.

But some officers in Idaho and Texas are testing a program in which they do blood tests on the spot, the Associated Press reports. In contrast, officers in Shelbyville and Bedford County have to take individuals to Heritage Medical Center.

Seems that officers can't demand breath tests but can forcibly take blood -- and that's been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Idaho officers are trained to take blood only from an elbow crease, forearm or back of the hand, AP reports.

So...do you think officers should be jabbing suspects?

I'd say yes, for some officers, but imagine someone struggling to get away as the needle goes down. And I can see all kinds of possibilities for lawsuits.

Still, as someone who is adverse to needles (though I didn't even feel my flu shot last year), I don't think I'd want to be drawing blood.


Comments
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Unless I'm mistaken police can only forcibly take blood if the suspect has been involved in a fatal accident. Otherwise, they can refuse a blood test just the same as a breathalyzer. Implied consent laws notwithstanding.

-- Posted by quietmike on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 2:49 PM

Officers can forcibly have blood drawn from a driver who was involved in a traffic accident where someone other than themselves are injured. This law was put into place July 1, 2009.

-- Posted by cordell on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 3:38 PM

It takes a TRAINED professional 5 minutes to find a vein to draw blood from my arms,,,,I really don't want Barney trying to do it!

-- Posted by anniesmom on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 3:50 PM

I don't think I want a policeman drawing my blood. A breath test should be sufficient (remember not to eat a mint or peppermint, or chewing gum.... it will show up as drinking) What happens when they take someone to the hospital and draw blood and it is negative. Is the county paying the bill?

-- Posted by Union on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 3:53 PM

I would risk being arrested if an officer attempted to draw my blood. There's absolutely no way that they can do this in a manner that I would consider sanitary on the side of the road. I don't drive after I've been drinking so I know they wouldn't find anything, but I sure wouldn't let them draw my blood.

I would submit to a urinalysis on the side of the road before I would submit to a blood test.

-- Posted by Thom on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 4:09 PM

I've known lawyers who counselled people to refuse breathalyzers but *insist* on blood tests-IF they are innocent.

There are fewer false positives and the blood test may show if the driver had low blood sugar,heart disease or the like.

This should be done by a medical professional on site or at the emergency room.

(After an accident,everyone should get checked for injuries,anyway,right?)

Unfortunately,some people can remember to refuse the breathalyzer but are too shaken up/concussed/ disoriented to demand the more conclusive test.

It's better to risk the breath test if one has gotten voluntarily impaired.

(One can always blame that breath mint or anything other than one's own mistakes.)

The same vial that will exonerate the innocent person will reveal any drugs in a guilty person's system.

Alas,even walking the straight line,standing on one foot or the examination of body fluids won't do much if the driver messed up due to fatigue,texting,fiddling with the radio,folding a map,yelling at kids or any of the hundreds of other things that distract people while behind the wheel.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 5:51 PM

uh No Thanks it takes a trained professional several and I mean several tries to take blood from me and I would NEVER allow anyone but a professional to do this to me. Don't lab techs have to go to school for this? Of course they do so what makes anyone think a police officer should be allowed to pick up a needle and just start poking somebody.If Police Officers are going to be allowed to do a Lab Tech's job then Lab Tech's should be allowed to make arrest.

-- Posted by Dianatn on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 6:47 PM

What other rights will we lose next? Are they going to start doing cavity checks on the side of the road to? The area for mistakes is rather large on the side of the road to try and stick a needle in someone who does not want it. I think the do gooders have gone to far this time.

-- Posted by Chef Boy R.D. on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 6:56 PM

I don't Drink. However= NO NO NO

-- Posted by herewegoagain;-) on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 8:34 PM

I was just reading today about DWIs in MO, where a lot of police departments have a low rate of arrests. Usually, a cop will spend about half of his/her watch going through booking and doing all the paper work for one arrest. The bad part is if it is a 3rd time DWI, which a felony, it most times gets pled down. About the only time these characters go to jail is if they kill or seriously injure someone.

-- Posted by Tyger on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 8:53 PM

There really needs to be an application of common sense here-for everyone's sake.

I can just see the pro-fluoride lobby stepping into the debate over whether cops should do cavity searches.

But,then,we'd have arguments over whether hardened criminals deserve gold teeth,mercury amalgrams or composite fillings. ;)

-- Posted by quantumcat on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 9:09 PM

Seems that officers can't demand breath tests but can forcibly take blood -- and that's been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

From David Melson

This ruling surprises me, as a court order is needed to collect blood samples and saliva swabs in criminal cases. When court approved - it is done in a sterile and clinical situation to avoid contamination.

A needle that is the proper size for a vein in the "crease of the eblow" it often too large for a vein in the back of a hand. How would or could the police determine this at the scene. It seems to me, this is a lawsuit or personal injury case waiting to happen.

I have had blood drawn by doctors and they missed the vein and hit an artery. The room looked like bad abstract art before they got it under control. I was lucky, as there were doctors everywhere - not the side of the road with someone who has no expertise in that field.

No I will not let the law draw my blood, we can go to the nearest ER and I will even pay for it, rather than risk my well being to an amateur.

-- Posted by amalphia on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 9:49 PM

Here is my problem with that:

1). How can I be sure they are using a "new" syringe (AIDS, HEP-C, etc.)?

2). If blood work should be drawn in a sterile environment for health and safety reasons, will the back seat of that little squad car be remodeled into a lab, or will they draw blood on the side of the highway where speeding cars blow dirt around?

3). How well are they going to be able to see on the side of the road to hit my vein, since most DUIs/DWIs occur at night after bar closing?

4). What happens if I turn out to be a "bleeder" (Haemophiliac) and my blood won't clot? Hey, I guess we could all claim haemophilia...

5). What if I faint at the sight of the needle/blood and hit my head on the pavement...do I sue the county or the cop or the ground (kidding)?

Seriously, I know a few cops who already have a "God complex." Just think how empowered they'll feel wielding a needle at you...I say NO THANKS!

GOTTA LOVE THAT GOOD OL' GOVERNMENT...LITTLE BY LITTLE THEY TAKE MORE AND MORE...

-- Posted by shawna.jones on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 10:01 PM

No, not unless it is a professional. There is too much risk for the officer to be hurt and the other indiviual. Drunks are not know for thier passive nature. And what if homeboy has aids??

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Tue, Sep 15, 2009, at 6:07 AM

Personally, I never drink, do drugs or drive under either of such influence BUT, I DISAGREE with the inappropriate measures of officers drawing blood. I am in the medical field and know how easily someone can get infected by needles, even if they are new...without proper infection control how are these officers going to do this? In fact, training one to do this is not adequate enough when out on the streets in line to do something else. What happened to the breath tests? What happened to plain common sense and proper discretion used by the officer? Drawing blood can be done in the wrong place, can cause possible infection,(especially out on the road) pour visibility at night or lack of concentration by the officer. They are not medically trained nor does that happen over night. This is totally absurd. WE have too many diseases such as AIDS and too many infections such as MRSA and Hepatitis going around and they are actually having officers doing this? NO WAY!!!! I think this is absolutely WRONG!!

-- Posted by babynoelle on Tue, Sep 15, 2009, at 10:29 AM

I have a great deal of respect for and fully support our Law Enforcement People. But, drawing Blood should be done in a Clinical Setting by Health Care Professionals. And even then with un cooperative persons it is dangerous.

-- Posted by MyMrMarty on Tue, Sep 15, 2009, at 10:30 AM

One other thought I forgot to mention was, the officers have no knowledge of ones medical record and what might happen during the process of 'drawing blood.' They are unaware of allergies, sizes of ones vein or if they have a hard time finding it, the person will walk away with a bruise, blood clot or other problem. The circumstances are not reason enough for officers to be drawing blood. If the person is on coumadin, what will happen if they begin bleeding rapidly? Will the officer be prepared to stop that too? Basically the officer needs a good deal of sterile equipment carried with them and the knowledge to know how to use them. I do not trust my veins in the way of an officer who has no clue to professional ethics and discretion of the medical field. I am against this!

-- Posted by babynoelle on Tue, Sep 15, 2009, at 10:42 AM

I am all for using ANY appropriate means of getting drunk drivers off the road, but the allowing of a police officer, who also happens to be an UNTRAINED medical professional to draw blood is stepping WAY over the line. After all, we do still live in a place called America...Don't we?

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Wed, Sep 16, 2009, at 12:45 AM

I think this could be dangerous for both parties. I say no way.

-- Posted by Nobody'sFool on Wed, Sep 16, 2009, at 10:05 AM

Naaa, I agree with the others. Only Certified, Registered, or Licensed Techs. "FULLY TRAINED" and TESTED, and done in an appropriate "approved" areas should perform that.

-- Posted by Momof3&3step&1gran on Wed, Sep 16, 2009, at 1:50 PM

I wondered if they would ever come up with a tangible manner in which to begin building a national dna database ......i hear voices sometimes too

-- Posted by big daddy rabbit on Thu, Sep 17, 2009, at 7:43 PM

Heh, Heh...Good point big daddy rabbit. I hear the voices sometimes too, but I only listen to the ones in my wife's head.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Fri, Sep 18, 2009, at 2:01 AM

Try this: http://zapatopi.net/afdb/build.html

(You can add some of the pretty foils from florist and craft shops to add variety.)

Remember: The jury may be out on the accuracy of the MIT tinfoil hat study but one could become more vulnerable to the wrong sort of electronic emissions if one's protective headgear was made incorrectly.

One doesn't want to risk dementia from aluminum foil or cooking pans so try to keep metals such as mercury and aluninium out of direct contact with the skin.

Silver might prevent yet another source of inappropriate blood-taking and cold iron will ward off faerie should that be warranted.

If it were ever considered necessary to purge America of dangerous folk,the easiest method to acquire DNA might be to invite the worst elements onto a tabloid talk show and get blood samples to check how many of their underage children were fathered by Elvis,Bigfoot,little gray aliens or similar "friends with benefits".

There'd be enough volunteered corpuscles on file to quench the thirst of every vamp in Sunnydale,Forks,Bon Temps,Salem's Lot or Collinsport.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Fri, Sep 18, 2009, at 11:52 PM

WHAT HAPPENED THE NIGHT OF MAY 23, 2009 THRU MORNING OF MAY 24, 2009

On May 23, 2009 at about 12 midnight I was driving home on the Beeline. When I reached Shea Blvd flashing lights started to appear. I moved over to a parking area near the Taco Bell, Wendy's and Arby's restaurants on Shea Blvd . Two DPS officers came to my car and asked me if I had been drinking. I told them that I did not drink and that the last liquid I ingested was around 6 PM. They asked me to get out of my car. They kept asking about whether I had been drinking liquor and I said that I already told them that I did not drink liquor. I specifically told them that I had taught the traffic survival class and new the consequences to drinking liquor and driving. One thought that I was talking back when I said that I told them already that I do not drink liquor.

They claimed that an off duty officer saw me weaving on the Beeline. I told them that I was in the left lane and that at times vehicles were behind and that I moved to the right to let them pass. Then I would move back to the left lane to pass other vehicles.

They then claimed that when I made a left turn from Beeline onto Shea Blvd that I made a wide left turn and almost hit a car. I did not recall that incident as I move from the lane I come out of into the same lane that I am turning into. That is my standard procedure.

I was asked to perform field sobriety tests. I told them that I just came from a Tango dance and the shoes I was wearing were dancing shoes which have sole about one-eighth of an inch thick. I also mentioned that I was shivering cold because anything under 80 degrees creates a coldness in my body. Their response is that they do these tests in very cold climates. So I was both cold and standing on asphalt with tiny stones or pebbles doing the test. I failed to mention that I have numbness on the bottom of my feet. With the thin soles and the gravel I had a difficult time standing.

They wanted to know if I was a diabetic. The answer was no. After doing the test where one walks with one foot in front of the other, my head back and lifting one foot the officers concluded that I was a DUI. They arrested me and had my vehicle towed (that cost me an unnecessary $100). Then they hand cuffed me and placed me in their squad car. I told the officer that the cuffs were on too tight on the right hand. He had no interest in loosening them. The handcuffs left a mark on my wrist.

When we arrived at their station they took off the hand cuffs. Then I saw the mark on my right wrist because the cuffs were too tight. It was of no concern of to them.

They proceeded to give me the field sobriety test again. I told them that I was shivering due to the temperature. They were not concerned. One test they gave me was to tell them when 30 seconds was up. I stopped at 28.5 seconds. They were surprised.

Then the breathalyzer test was given. They were surprised that it came up 000. I told them again that I did not drink liquor. Then one officer mentioned that he got one person because of an antihistamine. I told him that I take Prilosec, a high blood pressure medication and one for thyroid. I did not remember the names of these medications. One repeatedly keep asking the names. The officer wanted to know if these products cause dizziness. I had not recalled what is on the label.

Next the older officer wanted me to produce urine in a small bottle and then have blood drawn. I told them that when I had been at my military physical that it took them six time to draw blood. The older officer said he was an EMT and that he had drawn blood a 100 times.

He proceeded to attempt to draw blood from my right arm with no success. He said that if he could not get it from my left arm that he would use a butterfly needle from the vain in my hand. I said that would be a painful experience. He started to draw blood from my left arm. The pain was displayed by my facial expression and I said it was very painful. They had no response to my pain concern.

I was told at 3:30 AM that I needed to get someone to pick me up. I did not know anyone's phone number in Fountain Hills. I said that I only lived 3 to 5 minutes from their facility. I was told that I would have to go downtown if I could not get a person to pick me up.

I gave them the number of a friend in Tempe. He could not be reached. I reluctantly gave the number of a woman that I know through Tango lessons. I was told that she was angry at the police officers waking her up. I did not want to bother her but I felt desperate in that I did not want to go downtown to the jail. It did not make sense to travel 45 minutes to downtown when I only lived 3 to 5 minutes from their facility.

I was given two forms: vehicle removal report and independent test advisory/release of arrested person. I was told that due to a reduction in personnel that it will take six months to get the results. That it was out of their hands and was dependent on the prosecutor's office. They finally decided to take me home.

We went in my backyard to retrieve a key that I had hidden. I went into my house.I was never given a DUI ticket or a ticket for supposedly making an illegal left hand turn. Do date I have never seen any results for either the urine or blood draw tests.

I waited until the last moment to file this "Notice of Claim Against the State of Arizona".

I was hoping the bump on my right arm would go away. I was also hoping the daily pain

would go away. Neither has occurred. My primary care physician has said that he did not

know if it would ever go away.

It is now just under twenty-four months. I do not expect this problem to resolve itself. My primary care physician has no clue as to what to do for it.

A week ago I saw a surgeon to possibly remove the lump in my arm. He said the pain will probably last 40 years due to nerve damage.

I started a law suite with the state of Arizona since NO lawyer would represent me. The state of Arizona wants me to take $10,001 and go away. If not and I loose in court then I have to pay back the state of Arizona double their costs. This is real American justice.

Let me ask you....would you like a cop to draw blood from your arm if his training was 40 hours? A phlebotomist takes a course at the same community college for three months with one month internship to qualify to become a phlebotomist.

The assistant attorney general with the state of Arizona said he would not like a cop to draw blood from me.

My legal problem is that no medical doctor will testify that the blood draw was done incorrectly.

-- Posted by everona on Sun, May 8, 2011, at 3:26 AM

Getting back to this subject.

I recently read an article in the TG about a woman that the police had to forcibly take to the police station after she refused a blood test.

So are blood tests the 'norm' in Shelbyville now?

Personally, I would not consent to one if there was no reason. Of course, I wouldn't become 'combative' either....

-- Posted by espoontoon on Wed, May 18, 2011, at 12:01 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.