If you are a Georgia resident and make the unwise decision to drink alcohol then drive your vehicle, be prepared to have your blood forcibly drawn if you are stopped by police on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) and refuse a field sobriety test – yes, it's completely legal. Back in April 2013, the Supreme Court ruled if the police wanted to forcibly draw blood from a drunk driving suspect, a warrant had to be obtained. According to WAGA-TV, the police in Georgia are doing just that. When a drunk driving suspect refuses to take a breathalyzer test, police in Georgia are obtaining warrants to exercise this practice.
Even when the warrant has been obtained, the blood draws are still forcible for those who would otherwise still refuse. The full report on WAGA-TV can be viewed here.
The footage shows suspects being strapped, most forcibly, to gurneys whereby a nurse then draws their blood in order for the blood alcohol level to be tests and the results used against them in a court of law. The Blaze reported, "One of the anchors calls the footage obtained by the station showing such situations as disturbing video."
David Boyle, a defense attorney, told WAGA-TV, "... that level of invasive procedure into somebody's body is ridiculous, especially for investigating a misdemeanor." Boyle also stated the practice of forcible blood draws, even with a warrant, is "really intrusive."
Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller said, "It is what it is. If they're not guilty, they're not guilty. If they're guilty, they've got to face the consequences."
According to the report, the reason deputies began getting the warrants to draw blood in 2006 was due to more people taking advice to not submit to any field sobriety tests making law enforcements job more difficult. In Gwinett County, every DUI suspect is strapped to a gurney and put in a head grasp, whether they are compliant or not. Lt. Col. Carl Sims of the Gwinett County Sheriff's Department stated strapping individuals down to a gurney is a precaution authorities must take even though strapping someone down who is not resistant to the blood draw might not look good.
Are you kidding me? Not look good? That's an understatement.
Everyone should know that drunk driving is against the law; but, not only that, it is incredibly irresponsible, ignorant and just plain stupid. Irregardless, holding someone down to forcibly perform an invasive procedure, such as obtaining blood even with a search warrant, after refusing to provide incriminating evidence against oneself, stamps out the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and promotes illegal restraint. Yes, those forced blood draws incriminated almost all of those suspected and drunk drivers do kill a lot of people.
However, Benjamin Franklin put things into perspective when he said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
What about those individuals who were innocent. Regardless of agreeing to the procedure, individuals were still forcibly restrained for venipuncture. Georgia may not be the only state that has adopted this law – and Georgia law is conflicting in and of itself as indicated in the news report.
With Georgia law enforcement and the Supreme Court ruling in favor of this practice, how long do you think it will take them to apply this type of thinking to other rights that are inalienable? And yes, I am thinking of the Second Amendment. According to law enforcement in one county, statistics show a large number of individuals are killed by drunk drivers; therefore, in order to keep the public safe, it is in the best interest of everyone to trample the Fifth Amendment and expand on the Fourth Amendment. Does this sound familiar to the gun control argument?
While I understand the search warrant to be in compliance with the Fourth Amendment, I don't think the founding fathers anticipated it being used to invade someone's body. Imagine the implication this has. What if the police suspect you of carrying illegal substances in a body cavity? You deny it and refuse to prove it. Well, no more Fourth and Fifth Amendment. Law enforcement will get a judge to issue a search warrant and your body cavities will be invaded albeit after you have been forcibly strapped down.
Yes, I understand that obtaining a driver's license is implied consent to administration of a breathalyzer test upon suspicion of DUI, revoking the right to refrain from incriminating oneself. However, without implied consent, you will be denied a driver's license. Looks like a Catch 22 to me. But, are these DUI laws applied equally across the board?
In considering the DUI laws, some states (and Georgia is one) include operating a motor vehicle, motorcycle, truck or piloting a watercraft under the use of prescription drugs, some over the counter medications and illegal drugs as criminal offenses. These substances do not register on a breathalyzer; but, these substances would appear in a blood test to rule out those substances. With the use of search warrants/court orders to obtain blood for suspicion of alcohol, it won't be long before testing of blood for these substances becomes common place. After all, the law must be applied equally or it is discriminatory. While it is common sense not to operate a vehicle under mental impairment of any substance, the basic right to not incriminate yourself is being "court ordered" away by the issuance of search warrants to invade a person's body for evidence. The law enforcement officials didn't like the Fifth Amendment protection for this statute so the Fourth Amendment meaning was expanded to include obtaining body fluids as "searching a person."
Believe it or not, in some states upon arrest or suspicion of breaking the law, a cheek swab for DNA may be obtained without a search warrant.
Other disturbing research reveals the Georgia Nurse Practice Act seems to have wording that allows nurses to participate in this procedure even after the patient refuses. And, here it is:
§ 43-26-3. Definitions
(8) "Practice nursing as a registered professional nurse" means to practice nursing by performing for compensation any of the following:
(I) Administering, ordering, and dispensing medications, diagnostic studies, and medical treatments authorized by protocol, when such acts are authorized by other general laws and such acts are in conformity with those laws;
(J) Administering medications and treatments as prescribed by a physician practicing medicine in accordance with Article 2 of Chapter 34 of this title, a dentist practicing dentistry in accordance with Chapter 11 of this title, or a podiatrist practicing podiatry in accordance with Chapter 35 of this title;
The nursing school I attended, back in the day, taught its students that performing a procedure on a patient after refusal constitutes assault. Forcing a patient after the refusal would constitute the nurse committing aggravated assault, regardless of protocol, physician's orders or search warrant – nurses are not police officers. Laboratory technicians in hospitals, free standing labs and clinics are usually not nurses. If law enforcement wants to seize evidence via blood draw, let an officer go be trained in the procedure. Better yet, uphold the Fifth Amendment.
Arguments can commence by everyone taking sides on the issue of "this should be allowed because it's drunk driving and against the law" or "this is against the Fifth Amendment." Which side you take depends on your outlook. However, the right of the individual to not incriminate him/her self is an inherent God-given right and the Fifth Amendment limits the government to compel an individual to do so.
In my opinion, the participation of nurses makes this a basically court ordered medical procedure when performed by a medical professional. So are gone the days of honorable nursing practice where nurses took their oaths to heart, upheld Constitutional rights and advocated on behalf of the patient; not to mention, refusing to participate in activities that go against moral conscience where conflicting roles occur. By having nurses perform this duty, it betrays the very foundation of the nurse/patient relationship of trust.
Well, I am totally ashamed of the nursing profession and those who sit on the Georgia Board of Nursing. The Nurse Practice Act is there to ensure that nurses are not unsafe and practice within the limits of their education. While the drawing of blood falls within that category, the way it is collected, through force, violates rights that should be upheld, as it is the nurse, not law enforcement, who is obtaining the evidence under forcible restraint. I renounce my chosen career profession and proclaim from this day forward to no longer be a nurse. While times may be tough and jobs scarce, I uphold my belief in what I was taught as a child, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and hold fast to my teaching of honoring patient's rights of informed consent and the Fifth Amendment.