There is a growing trend in Iowa when it comes to OWI investigations, particularly those involving drugs other than alcohol.
Peace officers are bypassing the standard implied consent procedures and seeking search warrants for blood instead.
It’s not just for situations involving deaths or potentially fatal injuries. Yes, there’s a law authorizing search warrants in those specific situations. We’re talking here about regular, vanilla OWI traffic stops. The run of the mill variety that happen every day across the state.
Police have the discretion to apply for general search warrants even for ordinary cases if they want a blood sample badly enough. Of course, peace officers can’t withdraw blood from a suspect themselves even with a warrant. They need assistance from authorized medical personnel to handle the jab.
And that’s where hospitals may find themselves in jeopardy.
Iowa law provides medical personnel with immunity from liability when complying with requests to assist with search warrant blood draws. However, the immunity applies to search warrants issued under chapter 321J.
The general search warrants now preferred by police? Those are sought under chapter 808. That chapter is silent on immunity.
So, to all the hospitals out there and your medical technologists who draw blood at the request of law enforcement armed with general search warrants . . . you may not be immune from liability for your actions.
Perhaps you should consider refusing to comply with these requests unless law enforcement presents you with a valid section 321J.10 warrant?