From the Chicago Tribune:
Police in McHenry County will be out for blood with drivers who refuse to take breath tests for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Nine departments in the northwest suburban county announced they will seek immediate search warrants during traffic stops to draw blood from suspected drunken or drugged drivers who refuse to blow for a breath test.
The new policy is meant to counter drivers, particularly repeat DUI offenders, who increasingly refuse breath tests, which makes it more difficult to prosecute them, McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said in a news release.
Starting Sunday, police in Algonquin, Cary, Harvard, Huntley, Johnsburg, Lake in the Hills, McHenry, Spring Grove and Woodstock will institute the new policy.
Woodstock police Chief John Lieb said in the release that the policy will deter some people from driving while impaired.
While DUI suspects face severe civil penalties if they refuse a breath test — like driver’s license suspensions — police generally can’t force a suspect to submit to a blood test.
If the warrant is granted by a judge, the suspect will be taken to a nearby emergency room, where blood will be drawn and tested for alcohol and drugs.
The policy will be aided by an electronic warrant system launched last year, allowing police to generate an e-warrant that can be sent electronically to a judge for review. Officers can also communicate with a judge through teleconferencing and ultimately obtain a warrant through a judge’s electronic signature, if the judge agrees.
“The days of drunk drivers refusing to blow thinking that they can beat a DUI charge are coming to an end,” Kenneally said. “This new policy means that we’re going to ensure we have all the evidence we need to successfully prosecute drunk drivers every time.”
In addition to holding offenders accountable, Cary police Chief Patrick Finlon said in the release that the initiative “will create strong cases for the prosecution, thereby encouraging a defendant to seek plea negotiations, reducing the need for investigating officers to appear in court, and improving law enforcement patrol staffing.”
The United States Supreme Court has released its opinion in the warrantless DUI blood draw case that I have blogged about here, here and here. The Court denied prosecutors request to allow for warrantless blood draws in all DUI cases, although it left room for a case by case basis in which they may be allowed. This means that a police officer can’t routinely take a DUI suspect to a hospital for a blood draw whenever that suspect refuses to provide a breath sample.
Here is a link to the Court’s opinion in Missouri v. McNeely.
What do you think?
Over the last few years, a new trend in DUI enforcement has been the concept of the “no refusal.” Basically, the police will use force to obtain a blood draw from a motorist who is refusing to consent to a breath test.
This has been done in different ways. Through a warrant, an emergency court order, or by simply holding the motorist down and drawing blood.
Illinois courts have stated that while defendants do not have a right to refuse a test, the police cannot use excessive force to draw blood from the individual. People v. Jones, 214 Ill.2d 187 and People v. Farris, 2012 IL App (3d) 100199.
Police and prosecutors seek to justify these blood draws under the grounds that blood alcohol evidence is the strongest evidence of intoxication, and that because alcohol eliminates from the blood rapidly, it must be drawn soon after the arrest.
Today the United States Supreme Court announced that it would be hearing a case from Missouri where a police officer took a recalcitrant motorist to a hospital and had his blood drawn. The Missouri courts suppressed the blood test, because it was taken without a warrant or a showing of “exigent circumstances.”
If the Supreme Court overturns the Missouri decision, then police will be authorized to drag anyone they suspect of driving while intoxicated to a facility where their blood can be drawn. This strikes me as a very serious infringement on our liberty.
It is not clear to me how the court will rule. The stereotypical assumptions that certain Justices are “liberal” or “conservative” do not apply in a case like this, which scrambles competing values such as the state’s need for evidence and to protect the public from drunk drivers versus a person’s right to bodily integrity, a person’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures, and one’s right to avoid self-incrimination.