BOISE, Idaho (AP) — When Officer Darryll Dowell of the Nampa Police Department is on patrol, he will pull up at a stoplight and start casing the vehicle next to him. Nowadays, his eyes will also focus on the driver’s arms, searching for a plump, bouncy vein.
“I was looking at people’s arms and hands, thinking, ‘I could draw from that,’ ” Officer Dowell said.
The thought stems from training he and a select cadre of officers in Idaho and Texas have received in recent months in drawing blood from people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The aim of the federal program is to determine if drawing blood by law-enforcement officers can be an effective tool against drunken drivers and aid in their prosecution.
If the results seem promising after a year or two, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will encourage law-enforcement officers nationwide to undergo similar training.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1966 that the police could have blood tests forcibly done on a drunken-driving suspect without a warrant, as long as they were based on a reasonable suspicion that a suspect was intoxicated, and they were done after an arrest and carried out in a medically approved manner.
The practice of law-enforcement officers drawing blood, first done in Arizona in 1995, has raised concerns, though, about safety and the credibility of the evidence.
“I would imagine that a lot of people would be wary of having their blood drawn by an officer on the hood of their police vehicle,” said Steve Oberman, chairman of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ committee on driving while intoxicated….
For more on this story: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/us/14blood.html?_r=1&ref=us