When a police officer pulls you over, he or she might suspect you of driving while under the influence (DWI) of drugs or alcohol. While people can legally refuse to take an initial breathalyzer test and any field sobriety tests, once they are brought into the station, they are legally obligated to provide a blood, breath, or urine sample to the police to determine blood alcohol content (BAC). By refusing to do this, a person faces immediate consequences, such as the revocation of his or her license. However, does the arresting officer have the right to take the blood against a person’s will even if he or she is willing to face other legal consequences of refusal?
According to a recent appellate decision, the state can do a warrantless blood draw under specific, exigent circumstances. Because alcohol only stays in the blood so long, time is of the essence in collecting evidence. Under current North Carolina law, an officer may draw blood without a warrant if a substantial delay in getting the search warrant would prejudice the state.
For example, in State vs. Granger, the NC Court of Appeals concluded exigent circumstances justified the warrantless withdrawal of the defendant’s blood about an hour and a half after he drove because it would have taken another 40 minutes to get a warrant and it would have been impractical for the lone investigating officer to leave the defendant unattended in the hospital.
These types of cases merit intense scrutiny. Police officers are encouraged to obtain a warrant whenever possible, after which they are legally allowed to take blood without fear of repercussion. However, if your blood was taken without a warrant, you need to speak to a skilled Raleigh DWI attorney as soon as possible.
Our attorneys at Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh can look carefully at each detail of your case to see if your rights were violated. Let us help you take immediate action on your behalf. Our attorneys can develop specific strategies tailored to meet your individual goals and help you get back on the road with your driving privileges intact. We understand no 2 cases are precisely alike, and our experience allows us to defend even the most complex cases successfully. Let us see how we can help you.