Forced Blood Draws DUI in California

When an individual is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), the Implied Consent provision of California’s vehicle code mandates that the individual must submit to chemical testing in order to determine his or her blood-alcohol content (BAC) level. In addition to some severe consequences being imposed (jail time and loss of driving privileges), if the individual refuses to submit to a chemical test, California police are authorized to draw blood by force – either by holding the driver down and pinning the person’s arm, or by threatening to do so.

In the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Schmerber vs. California in 1966 (384 U.S. 757), it was stated that the blood must be taken drawn under “humane and medically acceptable” circumstances. Additionally, the court went on to state that so long as the blood sample is taken after a lawful arrest, in a medically approved manner, and based upon the reasonable believe that the driver was intoxicated, then no warrant is needed by the police. So long as these guidelines are followed, then a forced blood draw by the police will not constitute a violation of the DUI suspect’s Fourth Amendment right opposing unreasonable search and seizure.

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