Recently, former NBA star Lamar Odom was hospitalized after being found unresponsive at a brothel in Nevada. Authorities obtained a search warrant to test Odom’s blood for drugs. The results of those tests have not yet been released, but the situation raises questions on your ability to consent to a blood test.1
When Police Can Draw Your Blood
Law enforcement is allowed to draw your blood without your consent. This amounts to a search, and thus requires law enforcement officials to first obtain a warrant. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures unless an exception applies. One exception could be that exigent circumstances apply, which means evidence of a crime would be lost or destroyed if police are required to take the time to get a warrant.
In the recent United States Supreme Court case Missouri v. McNeely, the court decided that police are required to get a warrant in order to draw someone’s blood suspected of DUI.2 Prior to this ruling, the law embraced the exigent circumstances exception for DUI cases because alcohol dissipates from your body over time. The court rejected this view in DUI cases, but it left open the possibility that other facts amounting to an emergency could justify a warrantless search.
Unfortunately, what those particular circumstances are is unclear. It is reasonable to argue that a medical emergency could be one such occasion.