State Capitol News
3:10 pm
Mon June 7, 2010

New Ruling Adds New Meaning to The Right to Remain Silent

Phoenix, AZ – Under state law, if you're arrested for drunk driving police will
ask you to provide a blood, breath or urine sample. If you agree,
the test is given. If you refuse, there is no test. But under the
state's so-called implied consent law, that refusal means you
will automatically lose your drive's license. This case involves
blood taken from a motorist who spoke no English. Officers said
they gestured to him and made it clear they wanted his blood.
More to the point, they said he offered no resistance. A trial
judge said the record showed he didn't specifically refuse the
test, so he must have consented. But Justice Scott Bales writing
for the unanimous court said the law doesn't work that way. Bales
said the purpose of implied consent is giving officers the right
to seek your permission for a test -- but a right that is
conditional on your consent. He said nothing in the law permits
blood to be taken from a person absent either that explicit
consent or a search warrant which has to be obtained from a
judge. Bales said none of that undermines the purpose of drunk
driving laws which is to keep dangerous motorists off the road.
He said anyone who doesn't give that explicit consent when asked
loses the right to drive. That happens automatically. And nothing
in this new ruling changes that. For Arizona Public Radio this is
Howard Fischer.