No Refusal and Forced Blood Extraction

Certain parishes institute a “no refusal” program. Under these programs, an individual who “refuses” to voluntarily submit to a breath test will be served with a search warrant. Once issued, the warrant would allow for a qualified health care professional to extract blood from a person accused of driving under the influence. The blood test would theoretically be used as proof of the degree of impairment at the time of operation. Is this a sure step in procuring evidence for a conviction? In short, no. While the process is relatively new to Louisiana, it has been employed in other states for years. It has also been successfully challenged on a daily basis. Just because a blood test which measures blood alcohol above the legal limit prescribed by law, it does not mean that a conviction is imminent. The process is new and will take many years to be refined before it becomes a reliable and accepted method of proving impairment. The state would still have to show reasonable suspicion for a valid traffic stop and probable cause for arrest. Additionally, blood must be drawn by qualified medical professionals. The blood must be properly extracted, collected, stored, processed and tested. Any mistake or break in what is called “chain of custody” in the entire process can result in inadmissible evidence. Inadmissible evidence can lead to not guilty verdicts and reduction of charges.