Blood Testing and DUIs
Many misdemeanor DUI cases, particularly those that involve crashes, involve the attempt, and sometimes actual, collection of a suspect’s blood. The State can obtain the results of a blood draw in one of two ways, and this hinges on whether suspect consents.
Legal BloodIf the suspect consents to the blood draw, then the blood is often referred to as “legal blood”. As a threshold matter, for a trial court to admit legal blood, the State must prove that the officer made the request at a medical facility, such as a hospital or the back of an ambulance. Second, the State must establish that a breath or urine test would have been impractical or impossible. Third, the State must show that the arresting officer complied with Florida’s Implied Consent Law. The Implied Consent Law requires the officer to explain the consequences of failing to submit to the blood draw – either a one-year license suspension, or an 18-month on if the suspect had previously refused to submit to lawfully requested testing.
Medical BloodIf the suspect does not consent, the State can still get the results of any “medical blood”, that is blood that was drawn by the treating facility to render medical aid, admitted at trial. To get access to this blood, the State typically issues a subpoena to the medical facility for the medical records of the suspect. The State must notify the suspect with a “Notice of Intent to Issue Subpoena Duces Tecum”, and if the suspect does not object to the subpoena, the records are turned over within a reasonable time (usually about two-weeks). If the suspect objects, the Court holds a Richardson Hearing, where the State must prove that the medical records are “relevant” to the pending criminal charges, typically an easy hurdle for State to overcome, especially without the help of an experienced attorney.
ConclusionThe requirements for the State to be able to admit medical and legal blood differ. In fact, individual prosecutors often do not know what they need to prove to admit these two different types of evidence. This dynamic frequently results in a skilled defense attorney getting the results of a blood draw thrown out – that is, the results are not admissible as evidence in a trial. The jury never sees them.