Tag Archives: blood draw

Amid Protests, Sheriff Ends Participation in “No Refusal” Blood-Draw Checkpoints

An article posted last week on BenSwann.com noted that police in Clark County, OH were planning to and, on Friday, eventually did conduct “no refusal” checkpoints at which drivers suspected of driving under the influence could be forced to submit to a blood test against their will if they refused to consent to a breathalyzer test. According to WHIO-TV, Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly recently announced that his office would no longer be participating in future “no refusal” checkpoints after Friday’s program drew protesters from across Ohio. Sheriff Kelly, responding to a volley of complaints that he received via social media and email, said, “If this is not a positive event then we need to find another way to do our job and create an environment of public safety, and I’m intending to do that.”

WHIO-TV NewsCenter 7‘s video coverage of the controversy credited a blog published on Infowars with inspiring state-wide activists to gather at the checkpoints in protest, waving signs with slogans like, “Vampire cops ahead, they will take your blood! Turn now!” Though 464 drivers passed through last Friday’s checkpoint, no search warrants were issued for involuntary blood extractions.

Protesters complained that the “no refusal” checkpoints violate Fourth Amendment privacy protections found in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, as the program targets drivers for investigation on the basis of their geographical location, rather than their driving, and because many feel that forced blood extractions are an unreasonable type of search.

Springfield Police Division Lieutenant Tom Zawata told WHIO-TV that he is uncertain whether or not more “no refusal” checkpoints will be conducted this year. “We chose to use it at this checkpoint as a way to make the public aware there is an opportunity and existing ability to obtain a search warrant,” said Zawata, implying that the checkpoints were intended as a promotional and educational event, rather than a serious effort to apprehend known drunk drivers. Since the Clark County Operating a Vehicle Impaired Task Force is made up of officers from several police agencies, the fact that Sheriff Gene Kelly’s office is not participating in the program in the future does not necessarily mean that there will be no more “no refusal” checkpoints in the county.

Behind the scenes, the federal government recently decreased its financial contributions to Clark County’s OVI checkpoints program, leading police to conduct fewer of them this year than in previous years.

 

Police Planning 4th of July ‘No Refusal’ Blood-Draw DUI Checkpoints

On July 4th, 1776, America’s founding generation took its first historic step towards an experiment in freedom that unleashed one of the most innovative and productive nations in world history. On July 2nd of that year, the Second Continental Congress had voted to separate itself from the oppressive tyranny of the Kingdom of Great Britain. Two days later, the Declaration of Independence was drafted (though historians dispute whether it might have been signed a month later).

Since that time, citizens across the US have celebrated American-style freedom on the Fourth of July, grilling out and firing fireworks in honor of the liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights. However, some alarming new Independence Day traditions have emerged in the contemporary United States. State and local police across the country are preparing “no refusal” DUI and DWI checkpoints at which citizens will be investigated for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, not on the basis of their driving, but simply due to their geographic location. Those who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test will be forced to endure a blood test instead.

Texas police have announced that they will be running “no refusal” programs with mandatory blood testing for those who refuse breathalyzers, as will law enforcers in Oregon and Tennessee. Judicial officials will be on hand all throughout the holiday weekend to approve warrants, in some cases over the phone, that allow officers to take blood from citizens by force, which will then be examined for intoxicants. Due to the questionable constitutionality of its program, Tennessee state law requires that the locations of the checkpoints be made available to the public in advance. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security has publicized its checkpoint locations, which can be found at this link.

Civil liberties advocates have long argued that checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, as being in a geographic location does not constitute probable cause to launch a criminal investigation against an individual. Also, checkpoints take officers off the street, where it would be easier to watch for reckless drivers, and instead concentrate them in specific locations where drivers wait in a line, making it impossible for police to determine whether or not the individuals being investigated are driving dangerously. Without being able to watch for signs of reckless driving, officers will rely on less reliable indicators such as communication skills or redness of eyes to make judgments on drivers’ level of impairment, possibly putting individuals with colds, allergies, or long shifts at work in a position to be falsely suspected of DUI. Those who do not want to submit to a breathalyzer test could then be subjected to a blood test by force on the very day set aside by Americans to celebrate freedom from tyranny.

Police Power Expands With Roadside DWI Blood Draws In Texas

The state of Texas has authorized 6,000 paramedics to assist policemen by conducting roadside DWI blood draws during traffic stops.

This arguably intrusive procedure has resulted from a new law, passed by the Texas Legislature in the spring. It went into effect this Sunday.

DUI Blood Drawn

If a police officer requests a blood draw, EMTs will now come on the scene promptly. A blood test will then be administered at the scene of an accident or right after an arrest is made.

Before this law went into effect, blood draws usually took place in hospitals or jails and were conducted by medical personnel with higher degrees of training than the average paramedic.

But now paramedics draw blood results on the spot. Susan Reed, the Bexar County District Attorney, said, “In the last legislative session, the legislation addressed an issue of whether EMTs could take blood in relation to intoxication behind the wheel, be it an accident issue or an arrest. We could develop a system of mobile units, using EMTs to do that. But remember, it is still the circumstance of having the sanitary place.”

The new law will conceivably be a primary catalyst for making more DWI arrests. Reed said the mobile blood tests “[give] us more options and more ability to do warrants and do blood draws in relation to DWI.”

It is notable that the new law came into effect on Labor Day weekend, a time of heightened DWI arrests and police presence. Last year during the holiday weekend, 25,000 speeding tickets were given out in the state.

For years, police and the supreme court have increasingly limited the rights of motorists to make claims of unlawful search and seizure. This latest move in Texas fits within that trend.

Are on-spot DWI blood draws a mere tool to help officials rack up tickets? Or are they justifiable? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.