There are three ways that Myrtle Beach, S.C. police can obtain evidence of a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC): the breathalyzer, urinalysis, or a blood sample.
Salt Lake City Detective Jeff Payne’s meltdown when a hospital nurse refused to allow him to draw blood from a patient was made public after the nurse released footage of the officer verbally abusing, assaulting, and arresting her. Take a moment to watch the footage if you haven’t already…
Although the officer did not have probable cause for a blood test, manhandled and arrested a two-time Olympian for doing her job, later joked about only bringing “transients” to the hospital instead of paying customers, and conspired on audio with another officer about how to get around the warrant requirement next time, many people on social media are still blaming the nurse for not submitting and doing what the officer said.
Should the nurse have submitted to the officer and allowed a violation of her patient’s constitutional rights and hospital policy? Should her co-workers have stepped in and prevented the unlawful arrest? What do you think?
Did Jeff Payne Have Authority to Take a Blood Sample?
The officer did not have authority to draw blood from the patient. The patient was not even a suspect in a crime – he was driving a truck when he was struck head-on by another car that was being chased by a police officer.
The nurse can be seen in the video calmly explaining to the officer that his department had an agreement with the hospital to only draw blood from patients when 1) the patient was under arrest; 2) the officer obtained a warrant based on probable cause; or 3) the patient consents. The patient was not under arrest, the officer did not obtain a warrant, and the patient was unconscious and unable to consent.
The officer admits on the recording that there was no probable cause for the warrant. He is a trained phlebotomist, paramedic, and police officer who was familiar with the requirements for drawing a patient’s blood.
Can Police Take a Blood Sample Without a Warrant in South Carolina?
It depends. You can refuse a breathalyzer test in South Carolina although there may be administrative penalties for the refusal. There is no criminal penalty in South Carolina for refusing to take the breathalyzer.
South Carolina’s felony DUI statutes do authorize police to take a blood sample without consent whenever there is suspicion of DUI and an accident that results in injury or death. This provision is unconstitutional in light of the United States Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Missouri v. McNeely which held that police must obtain a warrant or consent except when there are exigent circumstances that would make it impossible for the officer to obtain a warrant. The Court specifically found that the dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream is not an exigent circumstance that would justify forcing a blood draw without a warrant.
Can I Get My Case Dismissed Because Police Took My Blood Without a Warrant?
If police drew blood without first obtaining a warrant or consent and if there are no exigent circumstances that would justify the warrantless blood draw, you may be able to have the evidence excluded at trial. In some cases, this could lead to a dismissal or a more favorable outcome, but the result will depend on the facts of your case.
Coastal Law, LLC’s Myrtle Beach DUI defense lawyers will work to get your DUI case dismissed or to exclude any evidence that was taken illegally. You can schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case by calling (843) 488-5000 or filling out our online form.