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Can I be forced to give a blood sample in a NJ DUI?

Yes, you can. However, not necessarily in all cases. Blood samples, according to the New Jersey Supreme Court case of State v. Ravotto, can be taken involuntarily, as long as the police use "reasonable force" to do so. But what constitutes "reasonable force"?

The courts determine this objectively and measured "in light of the facts and circumstances" confronting the officers at the time. The U.S. Supreme Court case of Graham v. Connor instructs courts to use a balancing test.

Points That Are Considered

There needs to be "careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including

  • The severity of the crime at issue
  • Whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and
  • Whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight."

A blood draw is considered a "search and seizure" under the Fourth Amendment, and as such must be done pursuant to probable cause and a warrant from a judge. Therefore the police must meet this burden, otherwise the BAC reading can be thrown out by the court.

It can also be thrown out if it was obtained through an "unreasonable use of force." As such, the police may force you to give a sample, but they might not be able to use it against you later.

So What Do I Do?

If you have been charged with drunk driving in southern New Jersey, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment in my Woodbury office to discuss your case.

If you are looking for additional information on New Jersey's drunk driving laws, then download my free book, How Much Trouble Am I In? A Guide to New Jersey Drunk Driving Law.

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Steven J. Richardson
Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.