Generally, in order to draw blood after a traffic stop for drunk driving, police need a search warrant. This means they must take the driver to the substation, place the driver in a holding cell, have a second officer serve as a witness to a written affidavit and finally the police must locate a judge to issue the search warrant even if it’s the middle of the night. This is to ensure that the search does not violate the driver’s constitutional rights. However, police argue that the process is too costly in terms of time with regards to DUI charges when time is of the essence.
However, a 2012 program has been expanded that allows all police officers in Arizona to obtain an electronic search warrant via a software program using the Internet. This software makes it possible for police to obtain a search warrant within 10 minutes, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The aim of the program is to apprehend individuals who police believe are drunk driving in a more efficient manner.
While technology is always advancing, one must wonder whether an electronic search warrant such as this is constitutional. Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, with some exceptions, officers must prove to a judge that there is probable cause for them to perform a search. If there isn’t probable cause, and the search doesn’t fall under an exception to the Fourth Amendment search and seizure requirements, then evidence obtained during the search may not be used against the accused.
It remains to be seen how this program affects DUI arrests statewide. However, any changes to police procedure must still fall within the confines of the U.S. Constitution. Those with questions about whether these electronic search warrants are lawful may want to seek the guidance and advice needed to better understand the matter.