Did you ever think that the day would come where police officers would be allowed to perform blood draws from the side of a road? This just might happen to you if you are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. Police officers are given more and more discretion every day, but is this taking it too far? Pushing the envelope a little too much? What about our rights laid out in the constitution; that are supposed to be there to protect us? Many believe that forced blood draws are an invasion of privacy and a violation of the right against self-incrimination.
“The supreme court ruled in 1966 that police could have blood tests forcibly done on a drunken driving suspect without a warrant, as long as the draw was based on a reasonable suspicion that a suspect was intoxicated, that it was done after an arrest and carried out in a medically approved manner.” (foxnews.com)
Years ago if a person was suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and refused a breath test they were transported to a medical facility where a trained professional otherwise known as a phlebotomist would take an intravenous blood draw. Now if you live in Arizona the police officer who pulled you over could very likely be your “trained phlebotomist” and draw your blood on the side of a dark desolate road. There are many states that are following in Arizona’s footsteps and doing trial runs to see how effective this can be to detour drinking and driving. See anything wrong with this picture?
Are police officers really the best person to be doing this? What about contamination of the blood since it was drawn out in the open on the side of the road? What about the health risks involved for the suspect? Being on the side of the road isn’t exactly a sterile environment to be drawing blood. For one; a person who is having their blood drawn should never be standing when this task is being performed. When officers draw the blood, the suspect is usually standing and the risk of the person passing out or the officer causing harm to the suspect increases significantly. The suspect who can be intoxicated; can become angry and belligerent, possibly pulling the needle from the arm, causing injury to the suspect and possibly contaminating the officer with bio-hazard material. Vials can be mixed up, preservative levels in the tubes used to collect the blood can be off, or the blood can be stored improperly, causing it to ferment and boosting the alcohol content.
On top of all this the officers who perform these blood draws in Arizona are not trained phlebotomists, but have merely completed a one week course which only had two days of in class instruction on the skill of venipuncture. Once these police officers receive their venipuncture certificate, they are not required like regular medical personnel most are never subject to oversight to make sure they are maintaining their skills and applying them appropriately.
I don’t know about you but if I were ever to be in this circumstance I would feel very uncomfortable and vulnerable. The idea of not being able to say no and having my blood drawn by an untrained police officer does not sit well with me. How long will it be before all of our rights are infringed upon and we have no say in anything?