Forced Blood Draws

Posted by Richard Lawson | Nov 30, 2012 | 12 Comments

Forced Blood Draws in Georgia

The most disturbing development in DUI law enforcement throughout the United States and Georgia is the advent of forced blood testing. It is quite frankly a despicable fascist tactic used by an out of control government.  The second most disturbing development are judges that refuse to protect the rights of the accused because enforcing those rights can be politically unpopular.

In Georgia, you have a right to refuse a breath test, a blood test, or a urine test.  This right is protected by case law, the Georgia Constitution, and the 4th Amendment to the United State Constitution.  Yet, our judges have become more concerned with being re-elected than their duty to protect our constitutional rights.

The general public is fixated on cracking down on Georgia DUI Drivers.  When a judge runs for another term, he/she will not dare be accused of being easy on those accused of DUI in Georgia.  So, it's easy to simply ignore their duty to protect the rights of people accused of DUI because those people have no political influence. This is exasperated by the fact that judges in Georgia run for re-election every four years. 

The result is as follows:

  1. A person is suspected of DUI in Georgia
  2. They either perform "voluntary" field sobriety tests or not.
  3. The are arrested because the officer determines that in his opinion you are a less safe driver due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs.
  4. The officer reads your implied consent warning, outlying what happens if you refuse testing.  The consequences include loss of your drivers license and the use of the refusal against you at trial.
  5. The arrested driver still decides to refuse because he decides he does not want to provide a sample of his breath or body fluids. (for whatever reason)
  6. As a result, the driver will lose his license for 12 months and have the refusal used against him.
  7. However, the arrest is not over.  The arresting officer goes to a magistrate and secures a warrant to take the driver's blood anyway.
  8. So, the drivers gets the punishment for the refusal, yet still is forced to give a sample!

So, lets get this straight. A driver in Georgia will be strapped down and have blood forced from them.  This will be done completely against their will.  If they resist, they will be charged with obstruction, and they will still be strapped down and forced.

  • But wait, they are afraid of needles; too bad.
  • But wait, they they are a hemophilia and the blood draw would be dangerous; too bad.
  • But wait, they are being treated for a medical condition that would make a blood draw dangerous; too bad.
  • But wait, they change their mind and consent to testing; too bad its still a refusal anyway.
  • But wait, the driver believes in the 4th Amendment to the Constitution and feels they have a right to privacy; too bad - the government now has your blood or urine to do anything they want to do with it.
  • But wait, the driver is afraid, upset, scared, and paralyzed by the arrest experience and just doesn't know what to do, too bad.

This is disgusting.  This is the ends justifying the means.  The State of Georgia will certainly get more convictions. Congratulations Georgia Judges ( including our appellate judges )You have turned yourselves into State Enforcers, instead of protectors of the rights of the citizens of Georgia.  Congratulations, your intellectual dishonestly will more likely result in re-election.  Congratulations, your have bowed to public opinion instead of following your oath to defend the rights of people accused of crimes in Georgia.

There is no constitutional justification to strap a driver down on a gurney and to take that person's blood against their will. It is as simple as that.  Georgia Judges, have you thought about where this can go?  Strapping people down charged with misdemeanor offenses so the State can increase their conviction rate.  Really?  If a person cannot be secure in their own body, then you have given ownership of our bodies to the State of Georgia.  Georgia Judges, you then turn over your own bodies to State examination upon suspicion of a crime. FOR MISDEMEANOR OFFENSES??

Do we own our own bodies or does the State.  It's a simple question with far-reaching implications.  If we are wards of the State, the State of Georgia can tell us what to consume, where to go, when to exercise, how much to eat, how much we should sleep, and in what economic activities we can participate.  In that situation, our judges would then be the enforcers of government mandates. Is that the State of Georgia we want??

Or, do we own our bodies, papers, and other personal property?  In that situation, Georgia Judges are tasked to protect our rights against an over-reaching government.  The trend I see today is where Georgia judges  act as a second state actor to enforce the law, like a second prosecutor in the courtroom.  This week alone, I witnessed a judge tell the audience that if you fail to plead guilty by the plea date that your sentence will most likely be more severe after a trial.  So, the message was to submit to the State or he would increase your punishment.  I wanted to ask him to pull up a chair next to the prosecutor.

Yet, I am certain the citizens of his county, at first glace, would support his actions.  He cracked down on DUI drivers in Georgia.  Yet, he did not do his job.  He acted as a second prosecutor, thereby increasing the intimidation of 75 people who were supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. He also exposed the hidden truth that most judges do increase punishment after trial. The fact he was willing to openly say it speaks volumes.

Were some guilty?  Sure. Were most?  Probably.  Did any person deserve the intimidation of a judge announcing to the crowd that they would be punished more by exercising their right to trial in Georgia?  NO!!  And what of that judge?  He violated his oath of office by per-judging punishments instead of exercising discretion and judging cases individually.  There are several appellate cases that have reversed judges who have a set sentencing pattern.  Nevertheless, he announced in open court a sentencing pattern of increased penalties after trial.

The message was clear to anyone in the audience.  If you exercise your right to trial, you will be punished.  The message was also clear that if you truly were falsely accused, this judge was happy to intimidate you into a plea of guilty by placing the fear of increased punishment over you.  I am certain beyond all doubt that innocent people have plead guilty in his courtroom as a result.

Does anyone remember the Duke Lacrosse player being falsely accused? They were presumed innocent and were actually innocent. Yet, everyone at first glace thought they were guilty.  The general public was outraged at the young men and the rape of the "victim."  The were persecuted in the press and "convicted" in the press. Yet, there was no rape.  It was fortunate that they had those "pesky rights" such as a presumption of innocence.  The fact that most people charged with a crime are guilty is no excuse for taking away the rights of the accused.  Those rights protect everyone.

And what of me?  I am not blameless here.  Have I outed the judge?  No I have not.  I practice occasionally in that courtroom and am also afraid of repercussions.  The fear is not personal.  If I am respectful in court, he can do nothing to me other than inconvenience me.  The fear is for my clients.  I cannot risk what would happen to my clients if I outed the judge.  The good news is I practice in 100s of courts and more than 60 counties throughout Georgia.  This event could have happened anywhere. I have chosen to remain silent, but I have to admit that I feel some shame about my silence.

I mentioned in an earlier post that sometimes I will write the straight news and the straight law.  The Georgia DUI Information Blog and the Georgia DUI Information Website are both designed to provide information to it's readers.  Tonight, it was simply my opinions.  I welcome yours.

6-29-13 Update on Forced Blood testing in Georgia.

As reported on Fox 5 News, the practice of forcing people to submit to testing is exactly as I described 7 months ago.  The actual horror of seeing it is far worse than I even thought.  My message to our judges in this state is very simple.  Any law school graduate that sees a person put in a head-lock and strapped down and thinks that this passes constitutional muster should be removed as a judge.  Any law school graduate that thinks that this should be allowed under the Forth Amendment and the Georgia Constitution should have flunked out of law school.

This disturbing new story is an example of an out of control government and a judiciary unwilling to do their jobs because they fear loosing them. Shame on any judge that allows this in their courtroom. 

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


Lisa Hayes Reply

Posted Jun 26, 2013 at 19:24:56

I love this piece. I just saw a scary commercial from Fox5 about a segment they are airing tomorrow night about forced blood draws in GA. Just seeing those people on camera being held down against their will made my skin crawl. I took to Google and found your blog. It’s nice to see a lawyer actually care, and to speak so passionately about government’s intrusion into our lives. Our rights are being taken away slowly but surely, and I’m scared. I am sure you were/are scared to speak out against that judge out of fear of retaliation, but at some point someone has to take a stand. You will always be a lawyer, but that judge only has a limited amount of time in his position. He’s the one who should be scared. Maybe you can out him during re-election time. Just a thought.

Richard Lawson Reply

Posted Jun 26, 2013 at 19:32:05

Thank you Ms. Hayes. I was pretty upset that day. I will tell you that there are several instances right now where people have suffered the consequences of the refusal suspension and their blood has later come back without drugs or alcohol. This calls into question the convictions of many people who were prosecuted on unreliable field sobriety testing alone.

SE Reply

Posted Jul 05, 2013 at 15:55:21

This is sickening. Strapping people to a gurney and putting them into a headlock even when they’re not resisting is going too far. The best quote from the video – “Why do you give them a choice if you’re going to take their blood anyway?” Douglas Sheriff, “Because the law says we have to give them a choice.” Oh really?? That’s interesting.. But then they take that choice away from you by strapping you to a table.

Richard Lawson Reply

Posted Jul 05, 2013 at 16:49:30

In the America I grew up in we don’t strap down anyone. These are misdemeanor offenses. We are treating these people like they are convicted felons resisting imprisonment.

Ned Williams Reply

Posted Jul 07, 2013 at 22:57:51

My concern is , what if this is simply their “gateway constitutional violation” if we chip away at the 4th amendment rights of drivers, how soon will we see automatic search warrants for people who refuse to allow the search of the car, truck or motorcycle? Where is the oversight between the step where the officer detains the suspect and the officer “determines” suspicion of a crime committed and then takes that before a judge where the suspect has no representation?

This is a very very scary precedent indeed, or as an attorney would you say we have not gotten to the point yet where such worry is warranted?

Richard Lawson Reply

Posted Jul 08, 2013 at 04:27:38

The truth is these magistrate “judges” spend exactly zero time reviewing these warrants or any warrant for the matter. I would be shocked if any are turned down. In fact I would be shocked if they have ever turned down any warrant at all.

Renee Bearden Reply

Posted Nov 26, 2013 at 11:10:21

If you are taken to a hospital to have the blood drawn, are you responsible for the bill?…

Richard Lawson Reply

Posted Nov 27, 2013 at 07:59:13

If you are taken to the hospital for a State-administered test of your blood, the state pays for the blood draw, and the crime lab will test the blood. If you are asking for an independent test of your blood, you will pay for it and the hospital will perform the test.

Mario jones Reply

Posted Sep 18, 2014 at 15:01:40

What can we do to change this? Who is responsible for allowing this. Where can I get more info?

Richard Lawson Reply

Posted Sep 18, 2014 at 20:01:43


I appreciate the comment. The only way to stop it is to vote for public officials that will repeal these laws. As for more information, it’s all over the internet. I have written about it several times as well. Thanks for reading!

Ted Reply

Posted Oct 23, 2014 at 13:35:37

Thank you, Mr. Lawson, for a well written article explaining the insanity of our system. My comment is in response to your comment above regarding the “…only way to stop it is to vote for public officials that will repeal these laws.”

I see nothing but honesty on this page – and here we must be honest as well. The system is broken beyond repair, including voting. We are hostages at this point in our history, not citizens. Our ‘votes’ do not matter, if they are even counted at all. ‘Elected’ officials are installed as per their ability to further the agenda of – and their standing in – the secret social orders.

Richard Lawson Reply

Posted Oct 23, 2014 at 15:31:55

I agree the system is broken. These are misdemeanor cases and we are strapping people down to take their blood.

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