Florida DUI Statute § 316.1933
Florida’s DUI Laws on Blood Tests for Impairment After Serious Injury Vehicle Accidents, Deaths, Reasonable Force
Title XXIII, Chapter 316, Florida Statute § 316.1933 Blood test for impairment in cases of death or serious bodily injury; right to use reasonable force indicates that when a law enforcement officer believes with probable cause that a person has caused a serious injury vehicle accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer shall require that person to provide a blood sample for purposes of testing the level of drugs or alcohol in his or her system. Reasonable force can be used to carry out the blood test. The statute further states that the blood test does not have to be accompanied by a lawful arrest of the person, notwithstanding the provisions in § 316.1932.
It is important to note that the statute says the officer “shall” require the person to submit to a blood test. The officer is therefore compelled under the statute to require the blood test when probable cause exists to believe that the person was driving under the influence and was involved in a fatal or serious injury accident.
Summary of Florida’s Blood Testing Laws Following Serious Injury Vehicle Accidents
Type of Accidents – The type of accidents covered under § 316.1933 include motor vehicle accidents that result in the death of someone or in serious bodily injury to someone. Non-motor vehicle accidents and accidents resulting in minor injuries are not covered within this statute in Florida.
Administration of Blood Test – The blood test must be conducted in a reasonable manner and must be performed by a doctor, RN (registered nurse), LPN (licensed practical nurse), certified paramedic, or other person authorized or licensed to draw blood. The blood draw needs to be requested by a law enforcement officer.
Reasonable Force – This section of Florida law says that an officer is allowed to use “reasonable force” in order for the person to submit to the blood test. The statute does not define what “reasonable force” means or describe what amount of force is reasonable or is unreasonable.
Resisting – If a person resists, refuses, obstructs, or otherwise opposes a blood test under the circumstances described in § 316.1933, a separate criminal charge for resisting can be filed against the person. The charge can be tried at the same time as the underlying charge or can be tried by itself. If it is tried by itself, the fact of resistance will be available as evidence for use in the trial on the underlying charge.
No Penalties to Those Collecting/Analyzing Blood – Health care providers, personnel, labs, and medical facilities that have drawn and/or analyzed blood at the request of a law enforcement officer pursuant to this statute will not face criminal or civil proceedings. This is true regardless of whether the person resisted the blood test.
Florida § 316.1933(1)(b), Definition of “Serious Bodily Injury” Within Florida’s Blood Testing Statute
Under § 316.1933(1)(b), “serious bodily injury” means a life-threatening injury, an injury that could result in disfigurement, or an injury that could result in the loss or loss of function of a body part or organ. The statute expressly says that this includes injuries to the driver.
Florida § 316.1933(2)(b), Oversight of Blood Testing Methods and Persons Qualified to Test
The Department of Law Enforcement, under § 316.1933(2)(b), has the authority to oversee the methods used to conduct blood analyses in accordance with the statute. The department can also issue permits for blood testing and determine whether any person is qualified and competent for conducting blood collection and analyses. Permits issued can be terminated at the discretion of the Department of Law Enforcement. This subsection of the statute also says that “insubstantial” differences and defects in testing, procedures, and permits will not cause test results to be invalidated.
Florida § 316.1933(2)(a)1, Notice from Health Care Provider to Establish Probable Cause
In accordance with § 316.1933(2)(a)1, and notwithstanding patient confidentiality laws, a health care provider who is treating a person for injuries stemming from a vehicle accident can notify a law enforcement officer if that person’s blood alcohol content is at or above the legal limit for driving in the state of Florida. That limit, under § 316.193, is .08 grams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood.
The health care provider’s knowledge of the person’s blood alcohol content has to have been gained through a blood sample collected for purposes of treatment. Notice to the law enforcement officer should only include the name of the person under the health care provider’s treatment, the name of the individual who collected the blood sample, the date and time that the blood sample was tested, and the blood alcohol content found in the blood sample.
Notification to the officer can then only be used for purposes of establishing probable cause for a blood test under § 316.1933. The initial test for purposed of treatment cannot be used in lieu of a test performed under the statute.
Florida Inadmissibility in Possession Cases Found in Subsection (3)(b) of § 316.1933
Subsection (3)(b) of § 316.1933 provides that the test results from a blood test carried out under this statute cannot be used as evidence in a case related to possession of drugs. In other words, prosecutors cannot use a positive drug test to try to prove a person was in possession of drugs when the test was carried out in accordance with §316.1933.
Legal Defenses to Forced Blood Draw DUI Cases in Florida
In some cases, a forced blood draw following a vehicle accident is inadmissible. These cases are often defended by arguing one of the following errors in collecting or retaining the blood sample:
- The sample was not collected by a licensed or authorized individual, as required under § 316.1933(2)(a).
- The sample was contaminated in some way.
- The chain of custody over the sample was not properly preserved.
- The officer did not have probable cause to believe the person was under the influence.
- The officer did not have sufficient evidence that the person caused the vehicle accident.
Work to exclude blood test evidence is just one element of a legal defense that a Florida DUI lawyer will provide.