You were leaving an after-work party, when you missed a stop sign and slammed into another car. Both you and the other driver were taken to the hospital. At the hospital, an officer asked the nurse to draw your blood for DUI testing. Your blood then tested over the .08 limit.
Can the police draw your blood if you did not consent? What can you do?
Under Illinois DUI law, you have the right to refuse chemical testing except under certain circumstances. Exercising your right to refuse does come with penalties: the length of time your driver’s license is suspended can be doubled, and your refusal can be admitted in court to show “consciousness of guilt.”
When it comes to blood alcohol testing, the police can obtain a sample of your blood without your consent if you were involved in an accident that caused serious injury or death. Serious injury is defined as requiring immediate professional attention in “either a doctor’s office or a medical facility. A Type A injury includes severe bleeding wounds, distorted extremities, and injuries that require the injured party to be carried from the scene.” (625 Illinois Compiled Statutes 11.501.2.) The blood sample, however, can only be taken by licensed physician, phlebotomist, physician’s assistant, nurse, paramedic or someone else deemed qualified by the Department of State Police. You can also have blood drawn by a medical professional of your choosing in addition to the sample taken for the police.
Can the police use physical force to draw the blood sample from you? A recent Illinois Appellate Court decision said no. In that case, the defendant injured her head in a car accident and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Although she refused blood testing, hospital personnel held her down and forcibly drew blood. The Appellate Court said that while a defendant did not have a right to refuse the blood test, the police still had no right to use physical force to extract it. State of Illinois v Jacqueline Farris.
If police have taken your blood sample and charged you with DUI, consult an experienced attorney immediately. Depending on how and why the sample was taken, you may have grounds to suppress the test results. Even if the police strictly followed the law, a DUI attorney can probe for other weaknesses in the state’s case, or if all else fails, negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you might do on your own.
If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)