Drawing Blood in a DWI Hospital Case

Shea Denning at the School of Government’s Criminal Law Blog has an interesting post on whether medical professionals can be compelled to draw blood by threat of criminal prosecution.

NCGS 20-139.1 establishes the various ways that police can collect a chemical analysis from someone charged in an impaired driving offense. It requires medical professionals – pursuant to certain guidelines – to collect blood and turn that blood over to the police officer if requested by the police officer.

The requirement, however, has no penalty in the statute. So it’s not clear, if the doctor or nurse refuses, what can be done.

In 99 percent of the cases this is not a problem: most hospital professionals cooperate with police. But a police officer last month handcuffed a nurse in Johnston County when the nurse refused to pull a blood draw for the officer. No charges were brought against the nurse, and the police were unable to get probable cause from the magistrate, leading to no prosecution.

As Denning notes, there’s a colorable argument that the medical professional can be charged with Resist, Delay, Obstruct for resisting the officer in his lawful exercise of his duties.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.