Can police take my blood by force at a DWI sobriety checkpoint? Yes, if they obtain a warrant first. In fact, this occurred in Tangipahoa Parish last week when local police officers, prosecutors, and judges teamed up for a "No Refusal Weekend" targeting suspected drunk drivers. The 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens from being compelled to testify against themselves in criminal cases. Also, the 4th Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizures. However, courts have ruled that these constitutional protections do not extend to DWI defendants' blood samples when courts issue search warrants based on probable cause. Therefore, when police, prosecutors, and judges collaborate to detain drivers who refuse breathalyzer testing, draft search warrants for blood samples, and review and sign the warrants, involuntary blood testing is allowed. Under Louisiana's DWI law, Revised Statute 14:98, a driver commits a crime when his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or higher. Blood sample testing is more accurate and reliable than breath testing at determining BAC. Thus, a driver whose blood sample reveals a 0.08 BAC is easier to convict than a defendant whose breathalyzer test shows an equally high BAC. Therefore, blood sample test results are the single most compelling piece of evidence available in DWI cases. Of course, even where blood was obtained by police, a good DWI defense lawyer can challenge a DWI prosecution on any number of other issues (validity of the traffic stop; improper arrest procedures; lack of probable cause; etc.). However, the bottom line is that a drunk driver who submits blood -- whether voluntarily or against his will -- is more likely to face DWI conviction than one who submits breath only or no chemical sample at all. This summer, local police are cracking down on DWI. From the Ponchatoula Police Department to the Louisiana State Police, law enforcement agencies of all sizes are conducting roadside sobriety checkpoints on a regular basis. Now that prosecutors and judges have agreed to join police on the midnight shift, the summer heat is hotter than ever for drunk drivers. Do yourself (and the rest of us) a huge favor by staying off the road if you are intoxicated.
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