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Drugged driving enforcement looks to e-warrants and blood tests

| Apr 25, 2019 | Criminal Defense

Police officers have long relied on breath tests to detect alcohol use among drivers. The increasing use of opioids and marijuana, both legal and otherwise, has complicated detection of impaired drivers. Blood testing can detect these drugs, but drawing blood requires a search warrant, unlike a breath test. According to a nonprofit organization based in Virginia, 45 states have laws or court rules that enable the issuance of electronic search warrants by telephone, video or other electronic means.

Police departments in some regions have taken advantage of the ability to obtain fast e-warrants while detaining suspects during traffic stops. On-call judges can approve warrants within minutes, and police officers trained to draw blood can extract samples and run tests at the scene of the traffic stop.

This process has increased the speed of identifying and processing people suspected of driving while impaired, but critics worry about the cleanliness of roadside blood draws and the potential for e-warrants to work merely as rubber stamps to approve requests to take people’s blood. Advocates for people’s legal rights have expressed concerns that on-call judges might not review e-warrant requests closely.

The consequences of an arrest and conviction for DUI could trigger job loss on top of costly court fines and even jail time. A person who must appear in court to answer for criminal charges may want to ask an attorney for advice. A review of the case may reveal criminal defense strategies. An attorney might question the competence of the officers who performed a field sobriety test. This approach might invalidate evidence and lead to a case dismissal or reduction of charges. An attorney may also be able to pursue compromises with a prosecutor to yield a plea deal that limits penalties.