Towards the end of last year, we heard the idea that “no refusal” DUI checkpoints could be introduced to Tampa’s fight against drunk driving.
The “no refusal” checkpoints would consist of having a judge on scene, allowing them to issue a warrant for the driver in question requiring that they take a blood test to acquire if the driver was intoxicated.
Currently, a blood test is only to be used when there is serious injury or death involved. Obviously anyone can agree to a consensual blood test but it is very unlikely that anyone would.
According to an article from Floridatoday.com, an appeals court in Daytona on Tuesday questioned whether or not law enforcement could forcefully obtain a blood sample in certain DUI cases. This case dates back to 2009 when Gregory Geiss was pulled over for swerving between lanes. There was no serious injury or death involved but a judge was on scene, a warrant was issued, he had to take a blood test and was charged with a DUI.
The judge in the 2009 case did not allow the blood evidence to be used in the courtroom, but later the state appealed. Two arguments surfaced: Is blood a searchable property? Is the searching of blood an invasion of privacy?
According to the article, Defense Attorney Ernest Chang called the forced tests, “a judicial expansion of powers.”
In 2003, there was a similar case where the defendant was charged with a DUI because of a blood test. In this case, a panel of circuit judges decided in favor of the state 2-1.
It will be interesting to see how the circuit judges in Daytona decide on the Geiss case. With what has happened in past cases, and the decision of this case, we will see if the “no refusal” DUI checkpoints will make way to Tampa anytime soon, or if the current publicity to the Geiss case will put a hold on that.