AUDIO INTERVIEW & ARTICLE: Your Breath or Your Blood
What happens if you’re suspected of driving under the influence, but refuse the breath test?
Well, in certain counties in Georgia, you can be strapped down to a gurney and be subject to a forced, warrantless blood draw.
David Boyle, “an attorney in Georgia for 15 years,” with “most of that time . . . spent as a prosecutor,” discusses this issue in this disturbing interview (16:45).
Four Georgia Counties Now Forcibly Taking Suspects’ Blood
• Motorists who refuse breath test for drunk driving given mandatory “blood draw”
By Dave Gahary
Although the United States Supreme Court ruled in April that “police officers must ‘usually’ obtain a warrant before conducting blood draws on suspected impaired drivers” in DUI (Driving Under the Influence) cases, the opinion stated that obtaining a warrant “must be determined on a case by case basis,” which has given several states wide latitude to conduct this controversial procedure.
Video of the so-called ‘warrantless blood draws’ being done in Georgia was recently aired on an Atlanta TV station thanks to David Boyle, a Georgia attorney-at-law, who had requested the videos when he was told they existed. Mr. Boyle has “been an attorney in Georgia for 15 years,” “most of that time…spent as a prosecutor.” He “started out in Gwinnett County being a prosecutor in traffic court and did a lot of work with DUI cases,” and “used to train the police officers on DUIs and detection.” After continuing “to practice as a prosecutor in several different district attorney’s offices,” he “went into private practice in 2010, and a good portion of [his] practice is defending folks who are charged with DUI.”
AMERICAN FREE PRESS conducted an exclusive interview with Mr. Boyle to gain a fuller understanding of this issue, which is being practiced in four of Georgia’s 159 counties, and started by asking how he came upon the videos.
“I basically had a couple of clients who came to me and they told me, ‘Hey, I refused to take the test, and then they forced me down and took my blood.’ I heard rumors about that but I never actually had a case where they did it. So I started digging around and did an open records request, because they said there was a video camera, so I did a request to get the video of my client and discovered that.”
Mr. Boyle explained this was possible “because Gwinnett County’s tactical team at the jail who deal with unruly inmates, for liability purposes they videotape all of their encounters.”
AFP asked him to explain the procedure, which has been “happening in Gwinnett County as of January 1st of this year.”
“They take the person into a separate room and essentially put them into a restraint chair. It actually looks like the same bed they put you in before they give you a lethal injection. And they strap you in across your ankles, across your knees, across your thighs, across your waist, across your chest and arms, and then forcibly turn your head to the side so you can’t look at the person or spit or bite at the person that’s gonna take it. And then they bring in a contract person to draw blood. And…then they go ahead and do this forced blood draw, and depending upon how the person reacts to that, it can really become a very volatile situation.”
Mr. Boyle believes “they’ve done about 120 this year,” and explained his opposition to this practice.
“I just think that’s wrong to be forcing people to be held down to stick a needle in their arm for investigating a misdemeanor. I think that that level of intrusion into the human body is just so far beyond what the law should allow. There are instances where folks have to give substances, pursuant to a search warrant, in murder cases and rape cases, in which they’re getting DNA. That involves sticking a Q-Tip in their mouth and getting a swab, not holding somebody down against their will and jabbing a needle in their arm. I just don’t think that is a road we don’t want to go down. I think that is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment as an unreasonable search of somebody.”
Mr. Boyle explained one of the conflicts of interest associated with this practice.
“There’s actually an agency called Ten-Eight [Forensic] Services [Inc.],” he said, “created by law-enforcement officers…who are getting the contracts to do this. It’s a whole growth industry for some former police officers.”
AFP asked where he saw this going and was asked to explain the inherent inequality with this practice.
“It’s tough to say. There are several cases in the pipeline right now working its way up the Georgia Court of Appeals. The problem is it’s also difficult to challenge because the penalty for refusing to take the test is much harsher than the actual DUI conviction. So for example, if it’s your first lifetime DUI, your license will be suspended for a year if you’re convicted. However, if you’re eligible for a work permit immediately, you can get your full license back within four months if you do certain conditions. If you refuse to take the test, you lose your license for a year, 12 months no driving at all; no work permit available. And in Gwinnett County where they’re doing this, there’s not public transportation for folks to get around. Sometimes just taking the DUI is easier.”
“It is not illegal to have something to drink and then drive…if you’re still below .08. But that doesn’t mean a police officer is not going to arrest you, take you in front of a judge and try to get a warrant to draw your blood.”