The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that police need a search warrant, in most cases, before drawing a blood sample from a DUI suspect. But the ruling didn’t help a California man whose blood was taken without a warrant more than a year earlier. Giovanni Rossetti was pulled over near Concord in November 2011 while driving about 90 mph in a 65-mph zone, according to a state appeals court. An officer said Rossetti appeared to be intoxicated and was arrested. When he refused to take either a breath test or a blood test, four officers held him down while a lab technician drew his blood. The court said his blood-alcohol content (BAC) level was 0.19 percent, more than twice the legal limit.
If this happens to you in southern California, go ahead and submit to the blood test, but politely insist on a blood test rather than a breath test. Then call an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney and let your attorney handle the case. While you can legally refuse a test prior to being arrested in California, if you refuse to take a blood test after a lawful arrest, your license can be suspended for a year, and you may even serve jail time for your refusal.
Rossetti, who had three previous DUI convictions, pleaded no contest in June 2013 and was sentenced to a year in jail. Two months before his sentencing, the Supreme Court ruled that police must ordinarily obtain a warrant for a blood draw. They’re excused only when an emergency won’t allow them enough time to get a warrant before the suspect’s BAC level drops. Such “emergencies” are rare these days, when judges can issue search warrants electronically.
At the time of Rossetti’s arrest, the court said, California allowed warrantless blood draws. The officers thus acted “in good-faith reliance on binding legal precedent” when they took the blood, and the results were admissible even if the search would now be illegal. If you are formally arrested for DUI, submit to the blood test. Get the legal help you need if you’re charged with DUI, speak to an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney about your case, and don’t physically resist the police. Giovanni Rossetti served a year in jail; don’t let that happen to you.