When we think about cases where a person has refused a chemical test in drunk driving cases, we may think of a belligerent individual who may be so impaired that they don’t understand the legal consequences of their choice. We certainly don’t think that a person may be charged with a crime even though they were following the law.
Unfortunately, a Salt Lake City emergency room nurse faced criminal charges when she refused to take a blood sample from an unconscious individual who was suspected of committing a crime. The entire ordeal involving a police detective went viral last week after the detective insisted that the sample be taken, despite the lack of consent that could have been obtained.
The nurse steadfastly held her ground as her supervisor implored the officer to seriously consider his actions. Despite the hospital’s policy, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that law enforcement could not forcibly take blood draws, which amounts to a search protected by the Fourth Amendment, from people who could not consent unless probable cause could be established.
What made this situation that much more egregious was that it appeared that both the nurse and the detective knew that there was no probable cause for the blood draw, yet the officer persisted and actually arrested her.
The rebuke of the detective’s actions was swift and highly publicized. The nurse was not charged, and the detective and his supervisor have been placed on leave pending an investigation. Nevertheless, the situation exemplifies the need to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to question searches that may offend the Fourth Amendment.