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Can Police Draw Blood from an Unconscious Person?

Like other states, California has adopted a law, known as it’s “Implied Consent” law. California’s implied consent law is covered under Section 23612 of the California Vehicle Code. Under Section 23612(a)(1)(A), it states, “A person who drives a motor vehicle is deemed to have given his or her consent to chemical testing of his or her blood or breath for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his or her blood, if lawfully arrested for an offense allegedly committed in violation of section 23140, 23152, or 23153.”

In other words, drivers in California are expected to provide a sample of their blood, breath or urine when they are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in California. If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test under California’s implied consent law, he or she will be told that their failure to submit to or complete the required chemical test will result in a fine and an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension.

Unconscious Drivers & the Implied Consent Law

Occasionally, a driver will be unconscious when the police want to find out if they have been drinking or doing drugs. For example, a driver can be involved in an auto accident and they will be knocked unconscious in the accident, or they will appear to be passed out behind the wheel, shortly after a police officer pulls them over on suspicion of DUI. In the case of an unconscious person, do the police have the right to withdraw blood to test their blood alcohol concentration (BAC)?

Under Section 23612(5) of the Vehicle Code, it says that a person who is unconscious “or otherwise in a condition rendering him or her incapable of refusal is deemed not to have withdrawn his or her consent” and a chemical test may be administered. The same applies to drivers who are deceased; police officers may test their blood for drugs or alcohol.

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