Doctor "Certified" Blood Draw

posted by on Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Under Iowa law a person is presumed to have given consent to have their blood, breath, or urine tested when suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in exchange for using the roads and highways.  However, a person does have a statutory right to withdraw that consent and refuse to submit any bodily susbstances for chemcial testing.  The tradeoff for exercising that right however is the loss of driving privileges for a longer period of time.  What happens though to the person who is involved in an accident who is either dead, unconscious, or otherwise in a position rendering him or her incapble of consenting to the test or refusing the test?  The answer to that question lies in Iowa Code Section 321J.7 which provides that a person who is not in a position rendering him or her capble of consenting to chemical testing is deemed to have consented to the test so long as a medical professional "certifies" that the person is incapble of consenting or refusing the test.

In State v. Scott, the Iowa Court of Appeals addressed the issue of what is required for "certification" by a medical professional before a blood test can be withdrawn from a person who is incapble of consenting or refusing.  The Court held that a "certification form" that was completed but unsigned by the treating physician was insufficient to satisfy the certification requirements of Iowa Code Section 321J.7.  The Court ultimately found that the blood test results obtained were therefore inadmissible at trial.  The State unsuccessfully attempted to argue that since the certification was completed by the doctor but was unsigned, this was good enough.  In rejecting this argument, the Iowa Court of Appeals succintly stated, "we don't believe we can lightly excuse non-compliance with the law", and determined that the certification is essential in order to protect the rights of individuals from indistriminate testing and harrassment.

This opinion by the Iowa Court of Appeals reasserts that the State cannot and should not get by with trampling the rights of Iowan's by disregarding the law.  The laws have a place and purpose in our society and apply to the citizens of Iowa as well as the Government equally.  Although many may disagree with this opinion and/or other opinions from our Appellate Courts, they play a vital role in interpreting and upholding the laws of our State.