North Carolina police may be showing up at the scene of traffic stops or car accidents with medically equipped vans and portable phlebotomy tables. An increasing number of police departments are training officers to draw blood from suspects in DWI cases. As more states legalize the use of cannabis – not to mention the threat posed by the opioid crisis – an increasing number of drivers are under the influence of drugs rather than alcohol. While alcohol intoxication can be measured by a simple breath test, there is still no similarly non-invasive way to measure the presence of drugs in the bloodstream.

Police still cannot simply take blood at will from drivers stopped in traffic. However, electronic systems have made it far easier for them to obtain a warrant for a blood draw in suspected DWI cases. In many cases, they can receive a warrant authorizing blood collection within minutes. When the warrant comes in, some areas have special police vans equipped with phlebotomy equipment.

While police cannot draw blood against a person’s will without a warrant, they can ask people to consent to a blood draw before one is obtained. Some have raised concerns about the level of pressure that people may receive to provide DNA and blood samples to the police. Others worry that the electronic warrants indicate that the legal system is failing to fully consider the weight of a forced blood draw.

Just like other forms of evidence collection, police are required to follow the law when it comes to taking a driver’s blood. People who are facing charges of drunk or drugged driving can work with a criminal law attorney to challenge police evidence and present a strong defense.