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Forced Blood Draws at DUI Roadblocks

Several states, including Tennessee, Texas, Oregon, Florida and Georgia, have started instituting mandatory DUI blood tests at road blocks. The practice has caused quite a furor in the legal world as attorneys and civil rights activists debate the legality of such a practice. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped local and state law enforcement officials from setting up these checkpoints for the last several years. These so called “no refusal” check points are aimed at targeting drivers based on their intoxication levels, not on their driving ability.

How The Checkpoints Work
The police set up road blocks at pre-determined intersections mainly on popular holidays such as the 4th of July and Labor day. Each vehicle that arrives at the check point is stopped regardless of whether they appear intoxicated or are violating other driving laws. Each driver is given the opportunity to take a voluntary breathalyzer test to determine if they have been drinking. If drivers refuse to take a breathalyzer they are subjected to a forced blood test to determine their blood alcohol level. Because police cannot take blood without consent, judges are either on-site or available via phone to issue immediate warrants, giving law enforcement the right to draw blood. Once the warrant is obtained, the individual is required to go directly to the local police precinct to have blood drawn. The blood samples are then sent to a lab to determine the blood-alcohol level.

Some States Have Stricter Regulations
Tennessee is one of the stricter states that has begun using this law no-refusal. Not only do they draw blood from those who appear intoxicated, but also from anyone who has ever been convicted of a DUI in the past. Additionally, they are also required to draw blood from suspects who have a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle with them at the time of the checkpoint inspection.

Tricky Legal Issues
Because of the tricky legal issues that are at play in these “no refusal” checkpoints, law enforcement officials tread carefully. They publicly and prominently advertise each of the checkpoint locations in advance, which gives drivers the ability to avoid the areas if they do not want to be assessed for intoxication. Additionally, those opposed to the checkpoints have accused police of targeting certain geographical areas, which has resulted in more widespread checkpoints.

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