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– K. – 4/26/11
Interviewer: In Arizona do police blood draws occur only in DUI cases? What’s the legality of it?
Mike: In Arizona and all the United States, police cannot lawfully search or seize any evidence from you without a warrant. To get a warrant, they must have probable cause that the evidence they’re searching for is related to the crime they think you committed.
Police have to sign an affidavit or do a verbal under oath affidavit to a judge telling him the reason they need blood. If they establish probable cause and a judge signs it, a valid search warrant enables them to force somebody to have their blood drawn.
That usually happens in DUI cases, vehicular homicide cases or vehicular aggravated assault cases. It’s possible it could be done in other types of crimes. It’s just more common in cases that involve vehicles.
Interviewer: Where do blood draws happen? Can the police themselves hold you down and put a needle in you?
Mike: It has to be done by a certified phlebotomist. Some cities, such as Scottsdale, take suspects in DUI cases to a hospital and blood is drawn there. In other cities, a lot of the officers are certified phlebotomists and able to draw blood anywhere.
Sometimes they draw blood on the side of the road. Sometimes they do it in a police station. If the officer is a certified phlebotomist, the blood draw can happen anywhere. With a valid warrant, they can literally hold a person down and draw blood.
Interviewer: How fast can police get a warrant to draw blood ?
Mike: The time it takes to get a warrant varies. I’ve seen cases where an officer calls an on-call judge anytime of night and gives information needed for a warrant. The judge can sign a warrant and fax it where they are. Sometimes that happens as quick as fifteen minutes. I’ve also seen situations where it takes as long as two hours for the warrant to come back.
Interviewer: Do forced blood draws tend to happen more on the roadside, the police station or the hospital?
Mike: They’re usually at a DUI task force, which is a makeshift station; or a police station or hospital. The forced draw usually occurs when someone refuses to let officers draw blood even after the warrant is shown.
Interviewer: How long does it take to get blood test results?
Mike: It can take 30 days. A good average is about 45 days from when the blood was drawn. In Arizona, many DUI arrests happen every single week. The crime labs they send blood to are very busy because more police agencies are moving from breath to blood draws.