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Ohio: Law Would Allow Forced Blood Draws by Police
Ohio legislature votes to allow police to make forced, warrantless blood draws from anyone accused of DUI.

Blood draw photo by Joshua Hernandez/Flickr
A proposed law currently awaiting the signature of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (D) would remove any barrier to a police agency that wishes to forcibly remove blood from motorists accused of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). State Senator Timothy J. Grendell (R-Chesterland) introduced this anti-DUI measure which sailed through the state House with an 87-6 vote and a 33-0 vote in the Senate earlier this month.

Grendell's bill is designed to extend the concept of implied consent beyond a mere breath test. Anyone who obtains a driver's license automatically would agree to allow his blood to be taken at the request of any police officer. Moreover, the consent doctrine would also apply to anyone who uses water skis or anything else "watercraft-related" in Ohio.

"A law enforcement officer who makes a request pursuant to this division that a person submit to a chemical test or tests shall advise the person at the time of the arrest that if the person refuses to take a chemical test the officer may employ whatever reasonable means are necessary to ensure that the person submits to a chemical test of the person's whole blood or blood serum or plasma," the proposed law states. "A law enforcement officer who acts pursuant to this division to ensure that a person submits to a chemical test of the person's whole blood or blood serum or plasma is immune from criminal and civil liability based upon a claim for assault and battery or any other claim for the acts, unless the officer so acted with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner."

Although the law specifies that only "a physician, a registered nurse, or a qualified technician" can draw blood from a motorist, a number of North Texas police agencies have devised a twenty-four hour course that certifies traffic police to take blood as technicians. Ohio's program will go far beyond that of Texas, however, by removing the requirement that a judge must issue a warrant before the blood can be drawn.

Last year, the Minnesota Supreme Court struck down warrantless blood draws as a violation of the Fourth Amendment (view ruling), while a New Jersey appellate court upheld the concept and dismissed a complaint against police officers who caused permanent injuries to a motorist during a forced blood draw (view ruling).

The Ohio legislation will become law by July 4 unless the governor vetoes the bill. The full text of the proposal is available in a 450k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Senate Bill 17 (Ohio General Assembly, 6/26/2008)

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