DUI Blood Test in Pinellas County
In Pinellas County, FL, the DUI blood test case might involve:
- a request for an independent blood test by the person arrested after submitting to the breath, blood, or urine test requested by the arresting officer;
- blood draw by medical personnel at the request of a law enforcement officer and sent off to the Pinellas County Forensic Crime Lab or FDLE for analysis;
- blood taken for medical purposes but then seized with a search warrant; or
- notice that the State Attorney’s Office is seeking a subpoena duces tecum to compel the hospital to turn over your personal medical records which might contain a notation about your blood test taken for medical purposes at the hospital.
No matter the circumstances, you need an experienced DUI defense attorney to protect your rights and privacy.
DUI Attorney for Blood Tests in Pinellas County, FL
An experienced DUI defense attorney in Pinellas County, FL, at Sammis Law Firm. We can protect your rights. We fight drunk driving cases throughout St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and the surrounding areas in Pinellas County, FL.
Our lawyers understand the tactics used by law enforcement officers in Pinellas County, FL, including DUI enforcement officers at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, or local police departments in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Belleair, Gulf Port, Indian Shores, Kenneth City, Pinellas Park, or Tarpon Springs.
Over the past 20 years, we have fought a variety of DUI blood test cases. Whether your blood was taken at the request of law enforcement officers (the legal blood) or for medical purposes, we can file motions to prevent the prosecutor from obtaining your hospital records.
If the officer or prosecutor already has blood test evidence, our attorneys can file and litigate motions to suppress or exclude the evidence from being used against you at trial.
For a first DUI, when the whole blood alcohol concentration is less than .120, then you might be eligible to enter a DUI diversion program called D.R.O.P in Pinellas County.
The main office of Sammis Law Firm is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We recently opened an office in Clearwater near the CJC Courthouse. Our office is located at 14010 Roosevelt Blvd Suite 701, Clearwater, FL 33762-3820.
Typical DUI Case with “Voluntary Consent” to Draw Blood
In our typical blood test case, the driver is involved in a crash and then taken to the hospital. When the officer develops reasonable suspicion that the driver was DUI, a DUI investigation begins.
If during that investigation the officer develops probable cause of DUI, then the officer will either:
- arrest the driver as soon as they are released from the hospital or medically cleared; or
- begin a direct file investigation while waiting to obtain the blood test results.
If an arrest is not made immediately, then the officer will forward the police report and other evidence gathered to the State Attorney’s Office for a direct file investigation.
The officer might also notify the DHSMV of the incident and request an administrative suspension of the driver’s license.
Agreeing to a “Voluntary” Blood Draw at the Hospital
Since you are NOT required to submit to a blood test at the hospital until after a search warrant has been obtained, many people just politely decline any request for a voluntary blood test.
Officers have a very difficult time getting a search warrant for a forced blood draw. In fact, Florida law prohibits seeking a search warrant in a misdemeanor case.
As a result, the officer can only ask for blood on a “voluntary” basis, at least in a misdemeanor case. If you are asked to submit to a voluntary blood test, people often say:
“No thank you. I would like to speak to my attorney before answering any other questions. Please leave my hospital room so I can call my attorney. “
In some cases, the officers might obtain blood at the hospital if the officer alleges that “the defendant agreed to a voluntary blood draw at the hospital.”
If you voluntarily give blood, then the sample goes to the Pinellas County Forensic Crime Laboratory. The toxicology test results are then sent to the officer and the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office.
If the results show that you were over the legal limit for alcohol or indicate the presence of controlled substances, then the officer might issue an arrest warrant and DUI citation.
When the officer has enough evidence to bring charges, the officer might knock on your door or call you to tell you the results, explain the process, and what to expect moving forward.
The officer will tell the person that he is completing a probable cause affidavit in VIPAR for DUI and issuing a traffic citation for DUI with a mandatory court date at the CJC courthouse or the North County Traffic Court in Pinellas County, FL.
If you are represented by an experienced DUI defense attorney, your attorney can contact the officer before the blood is analyzed. Your attorney might also prevent them from obtaining the blood test results, or show them other problems that might discourage the officer from bringing any DUI charge against you.
The officer might ask the person to surrender at the jail and arrange for the citation to be sent to you via certified mail. The toxicology results are then attached to the ACISS report. The blood draw results are also entered into a PCSO supplemental report.
Implied Consent Form for a DUI Blood Test Case
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has a special form that DUI enforcement officers use when requesting a blood test at the hospital. It provides:
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
State of Florida
Implied Consent Form for a DUI Blood Test Case
__ BLOOD TEST
I am now requesting that you submit to a lawful test of your BLOOD for the purpose of determining its alcoholic content and the presence of chemical or controlled substances.
WILL YOU TAKE THE TEST?
Pinellas County Forensic Laboratory Blood Alcohol Analysis
If the officer obtains blood, it might be sent to the Pinellas County Forensic Laboratory located at 10900 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL 33778.
The laboratory report for a blood alcohol analysis includes the lab number, report number, report date, request date, case agency, case number, and subject’s name. The Blood Alcohol Analysis report for the Pinellas County Forensic Lab also lists the submission date and the item description.
The DUI blood test kit used by PCSO includes two gray stoppered (potassium oxalate anticoagulant/sodium fluoride preservative) blood collection tubes. The section of the report for analysis and results explains the requirements for volatiles quantization by dual-column GC-FID for Ethanol measured at 0.000 +_ 0.012 g/dl.
The disposition section of the lab report explains that specimens will be destroyed after a minimum two-year retention unless other arrangements are made. The form directs you to contact the Pinellas County Forensic Laboratory if an alternative disposition or additional retention is required.
The certification on the form provides:
- This report contains the result, interpretations, and opinions of the individual whose signature appears on the report, some elements of the analysis have been performed by other laboratory staff.
- A toxicologist at the Pinellas County Forensic Laboratory will sign the form.
- The ethanol concentration range represents a statistical confidence interval of 99.7%.
- Where applicable, drug analysis will be subject to a separate report.
- The results reflected on this report relate only to the items received and tested by the laboratory.
- No analysis was performed on specimens that do not reflect testing results, however, they will be maintained for inventory/storage or future testing needs.
Alcohol Testing Program Certification of Blood Withdraw
If the law enforcement officer at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office requests that medical personnel withdraw the blood at the hospital, the person taking the blood will be asked to sign a “Certificate of Blood Withdrawal” form. The form provides:
I certify that as a physician, certified paramedic, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or other person authorized by a hospital to draw blood, …I am authorized under Florida law to withdraw blood at the request of a law enforcement officer. I certify that on [date], I withdrew blood from [the named driver] at the request of [the named officer].
The blood sample(s) were collected and labeled in accordance with the provisions of Rule 11D-8.012, Florida Administrative Code. Before collecting the blood sample(s), the skin was cleansed with an antiseptic that did not contain alcohol.
The blood sample(s) were collected in glass evacuation tubes that contained a preservative and an anticoagulant. Immediately after collection, the tubes were inverted several times. The blood collection tubes were labeled with the name of the person tested, the date and time the sample(s) were collected, and the initials of the person who collected the samples.
Requirements to Draw Blood under Implied Consent
Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 316.1932(1)(c), there are three (3) requirements to request a blood draw pursuant to Implied Consent:
- probable cause that the defendant is impaired;
- the defendant appears for treatment at a medical facility; and
- the breath or urine testing is impractical or impossible.
The blood test result might be suppressed if the probable cause for the blood test was pursuant to the so-called “Fellow Officer Rule.” In Montes-Valeton v. State, 216 So. 3d 475 (Fla. 2017), the court explained:
“[t]he primary purpose of the fellow officer rule is ‘to assist officers investigating in the field to make arrests and conduct searches’ because ‘an officer in the field may need to act immediately based upon what he or she is told by a fellow officer.’
But the officer conducting the search or arrest must act based upon what is told by the fellow officer. Id. Therefore, the Court held that without communicating to the arresting officer some information regarding the basis for probable cause to conduct the blood draw, the predicate for application of the “Fellow Officer Rule” did not exist. Id.
Florida Law Allowing a Blood Draw for a DUI Investigation
Florida law currently allows a law enforcement officer to draw blood:
- without a warrant when the driver freely and voluntarily consents to the blood test;
- with a warrant in felony cases; or
- pursuant to a subpoena, if a hospital takes the suspect’s blood after an accident and tests it for medical purposes.
The grounds for the issuance of a search warrant do not authorize a search warrant to obtain blood evidence in a misdemeanor DUI case pursuant to Section 933.02, F.S.
This section does allow a search warrant to be issued under the following circumstances:
- when any property has been used as a means to commit a crime; or
- if any property constitutes evidence relevant to proving that a felony has been committed.
The courts in Florida have interpreted this statute to authorize a search warrant to obtain blood evidence in felony DUI cases but not in misdemeanor DUI cases.
Most DUI cases are for a misdemeanor charged under Section 316.193, F.S. Under a few limited circumstances, a DUI can be charged as a felony including:
- a third DUI within ten (10) years of any prior conviction;
- a fourth DUI within a lifetime;
- a DUI with serious bodily injury;
- a DUI with a death (often charged as DUI manslaughter).
Blood Test Results Not Authorized Under Implied Consent
In some cases, the prosecutor will admit that the blood test results were not legislatively authorized under implied consent as described in §316.1932(1)(c), Fla. Stat. Nevertheless, the prosecutor might argue that the Defendant voluntarily consented to a blood draw while at the hospital or medical facility which falls wholly outside the scope of the implied consent law.
In Florida, the courts have found that the implied consent law is not the exclusive manner by which a blood test may be obtained and admitted into evidence. Although free and voluntary consent might form the basis for the blood test results being admissible at trial, a coerced consent based on acquiescence to lawful authority requires suppression of the breath test results. See Mcowen v. State, 14 Fla. L. Weekly supp. 105b (Fla. 18th Jud. Cir. 2006).
Forensic Lab in Pinellas County – Visit the website of the Forensic Science Center covering the District Six Medical Examiner Office and the Pinellas County Forensic Lab. The lab serves the criminal justice community in Pinellas County by providing analysis for cases involving seized drugs, DUIs, and post-mortem toxicology. Each year, the Toxicology Section receives more than 700 DUI cases each year. Most of these cases involve the submission by law enforcement agencies of blood and/or urine samples from suspects in DUI investigations. In DUI cases, the blood specimens are tested for the presence of ethanol and other volatile compounds using Headspace Gas Chromatography. Results showing the presence of drugs are confirmed and quantitatively measured using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for alprazolam, cocaine, heroin. marijuana, methamphetamine, and oxycodone.
This article was last updated on Friday, April 29, 2022.