DUI Search Warrants For Blood Testing
DUI Criminal Defense Attorney in Vancouver WA
Roger Priest is a criminal defense attorney in Vancouver WA with extensive courtroom experience in Washington’s complex criminal laws
The most common way to prove a DUI in Washington is by proving that a person’s “blood alcohol concentration” is above the legal limit. This is usually done by breath testing.
How can breath testing prove blood alcohol concentration?
It might seem strange that we can test blood by testing breath. The reason this works is that your lungs have millions of capillaries that exchange blood and air back and forth. So, if your blood has alcohol in it, it will transfer alcohol into your breath.
It still begs the question, “Aren’t there better ways to test the content of blood?”
Of course! Testing blood directly is always more accurate than testing breath.
So why don’t we just test blood?
The reason is it takes more work. Washington police test breath because it is less work for them than to test blood.
Thanks to Washington’s Implied Consent law, you are legally required to provide a breath sample if arrested for DUI. The same is not true for a blood sample. A blood sample can only be taken if you consent or if the police officer gets a search warrant for your blood. Getting a search warrant for your blood requires lots of time, paperwork, and a brief hearing with a judge. This can take as little as 30 minutes to accomplish, but it is more work than simply offering you a breath test at the station.
Still, search warrants are common in drug DUIs, certain DUI refusal cases and in cases where the suspect was injured in a car accident. In these cases, scrutinizing the search warrant is extremely important to look for potential defenses. If a search warrant was done incorrectly, it can mean that the blood results are inadmissible in court. This can make a bad DUI case good pretty quickly. If a search warrant for blood was done in your DUI case, call a good DUI attorney to help defend you in court. It might prove to be the best decision you can make.
DUI Search Warrant Process
Often, search warrants in DUI cases are pretty straight-forward. If the officer needs to seek a search warrant, they have a template warrant that they fill out. This warrant affidavit has check boxes and blank lines. This helps them fill it out quickly so they can make fewer mistakes. Once the warrant affidavit is complete, they often call the on-duty judge for a telephonic warrant hearing. During that hearing, they are audio recorded. They then read the warrant affidavit to the judge. The judge then decides whether there is enough evidence to grant the search warrant.
Search warrants must meet certain requirements to be granted. It is the judge’s role to decide whether the search warrant affidavit provides enough information to be granted.