Can Law Enforcement Force Blood Draws When You Get Pulled Over?
Ohio does not allow law enforcement officials to draw blood for alcohol and drug testing during traffic stops. Nor can police officers or state troopers take blood samples at DUI checkpoints. Under state law, the only places blood can be drawn to provide evidence for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI) is at certified healthcare facilities and designated police stations. Further, suspects must have opportunities to refuse requests to provide blood samples.
OVI Suspects Can Refuse to Participate in All Field Sobriety Tests
Law enforcement cannot legally force OVI suspects to do any of the following things during traffic stops or at checkpoints:
- Blow into a portable or handheld breath-testing device
- Follow a pen tip or flashlight using only their eyes
- Walk a straight line while touching heel to toe
- Stand on one leg
- Give blood or urine samples
Individuals suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol also have the right to remain silent, to refuse vehicle searches, and to request to speak with a Columbus DUI lawyer.
Stating one’s intention to exercise any of these rights or to refuse to do field sobriety tests briefly and respectfully can keep the encounter with law enforcement free from unnecessary tension.
Suspects Have the Right to Refuse Breath, Blood, and Urine Tests
A police officer or state trooper must formally request permission to collect breath, blood, and urine samples. The law enforcement official must also explain to the suspect that he or she can say no, and then explain the legal consequences of refusing.
In Ohio, refusing laboratory tests for alcohol and drug use can result in an automatic driver’s license suspension. Consulting with an OVI defense attorney in Columbus may help clarify whether saying no to testing is a wise choice. One consideration will be the reality that Ohio suspends all the driver’s licenses a person holds, meaning getting pulled over for suspicion of OVI while driving one’s own car can cost a person his or her commercial driver’s license.
A Single Exception Exists to the Rules Prohibiting Forced Blood Draws
Ohio courts have ruled that law enforcement officials can use “reasonable force” to draw blood from OVI suspects who already have two convictions related to drunk or drugged driving on their records. Two earlier instances of refusing to voluntarily provide blood samples can justify forced compliance. That being said, Ohio courts have said that a valid warrant is required to force a blood draw.
Any violation of drug and alcohol testing rules can make OVI evidence inadmissible. One reason to hire a dedicated Columbus OVI defense lawyer is to enlist the help of a legal ally who knows how to hold law enforcement officials to their obligation to respect suspects’ rights and follow proper procedures.
As an OVI defense attorney based in Columbus, a lawyer with The Maher Law Firm represents DUI suspects all throughout Franklin County, OH. We offer no-cost, no-pressure consultations, and we take many cases on a flat fee basis.