Can Officers Forcibly Take Urine Samples?
An incident in South Dakota has raised an interesting legal question: Can a person suspected of driving under the influence (or any other crime) be forced to give a urine sample? While it is commonly known that a judge may sign a warrant that forces a suspect to submit to a blood test to determine the level of alcohol in a person’s system, very few have heard of someone being forcibly subjected to catheterization in order to collect a urine sample. Here’s what happened.
A man in Pierre, South Dakota was being detained for a domestic dispute in his home. Police officers said that the man was acting abnormally and requested that he submit to a urine sample. When the man refused, the police contacted a local judge asking for warrant to obtain the sample by a medically accepted method.
The man was transported to a local hospital where he was restrained to a bed and forcibly catheterized. He is not alone in his experience. Reports indicated that the same treatment was given to a 3-year-old child as part of a child welfare case. Additionally, South Dakota is not the only state in which this has occurred. The forcible catheterization of suspects have been the basis for lawsuits in different areas of the country. Unfortunately, courts have often sided with the police in these cases.
The good news is that not all police departments believe in this method of obtaining evidence. Some departments believe that the method is an invasive one and an inefficient use of time. For those that have been subjected to the process, the physical and emotional pain can last for months afterwards. One such person explained that he still has nightmares about the incident and spent weeks experiencing painful urination.
According to the ACLU, the practice is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. This is especially true when evidence can be gathered through less invasive methods in most cases. Attorneys have said that this method of collection should only be used in the most extreme cases, such as vehicular homicide, and not in cases where a suspect, if convicted, would likely receive probation.
Whether or not police departments will be permitted to continue using this method of evidence collection is unclear. The Supreme Court has said that bodily invasions are a serious step, and most judges will not sign a warrant when they know exactly what “medically appropriate” includes.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Atlanta or the surrounding area, you have rights. Reach out to our team of experienced DUI defense attorneys and let us help you make the best decisions for your unique situation. Your reputation and freedom are on the line. Call us today to schedule your free case evaluation. We will advise you of your rights and, should you choose to hire our team, begin putting your defense together.