With Super Bowl Sunday a week away, law enforcement authorities throughout Florida will be ramping up with increased DUI enforcement. Sobriety checkpoints (i.e. DUI roadblocks) are a popular tool of law enforcement for enforcing DUI laws during major holidays or other events where it is assumed there will be increased drinking and driving. Fortunately, a recent Florida court decision will deprive law enforcement of a more extensive weapon – forced blood draws in misdemeanor DUI cases.
Florida law enforcement authorities following a trend in a number of states have been arranging to have judges ready to grant warrants to draw blood at so-called “No Refusal Checkpoints.” When motorists are stopped at these DUI roadblocks and decline to submit to a breath test, a judge is available to immediately issue a warrant which authorizes forcibly taking a blood sample for chemical testing of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This procedure poses a particularly onerous infringement on Fourth Amendment search and seizure interests because the initial stop is random and does not require any individualized basis for suspicion.
In the State v. Geiss (Case No. 5D10-3292), the Fifth District Court of Appeals for Florida ruled that the forced blood draw procedure used at “No Refusal Checkpoints” was not authorized under Florida law. The defendant in the case Gregory Geiss was stopped for suspicion of DUI. Geiss declined to perform field sobriety tests and also refused to comply with the officer’s demand that the driver submit to a breath test.
The Fifth District Court of Appeals considered three separate challenges to the forced blood draw procedure based on the following: (1) Constitution right to privacy; (2) Florida’s implied consent statute; and (3) Florida’s state warrant statute. While the court rejected the first two challenges to the forced blood draw procedure, the court ruled that the procedure was invalid under Florida’s warrant statute. Florida Statute 933.02(3) provides in pertinent part “[u]pon proper affidavits being made, a search warrant may be issued under the provisions of this chapter upon any of the following grounds: (3) [w]hen any property constitutes evidence relevant to proving that a Felony has been committed.”
The court found that the procedure was not authorized under the state warrant statute for misdemeanors, which would include most though not all DUI offenses. Because this is the first Florida appellate court to rule on this issue, courts throughout the state will look at this decision in misdemeanor DUI cases involving forced blood draws. Florida law enforcement authorities find forced blood draws attractive because “DUI refusal” cases are more difficult for prosecutors. If you are charged with DUI following a forced blood draw at a Florida no refusal DUI roadblock, Florida DUI defense attorney John Musca provides zealous DUI defense based on innovative and proven legal strategies and new legal developments. We invite you to contact a Florida DUI defense attorney at Musca Law to schedule a free confidential consultation at (800) 687-2252 to see how we can help.