Vero Police to continue seeking blood sample warrants for DUI cases

VERO BEACH — Despite the court case over the Vero Beach Police Department requiring blood tests from DUI suspects who refuse to take a Breathalyzer test, the city plans to continue to enforce the program once procedures are worked out with the State Attorney’s Office.”We are working on some policy and procedures with them (the State Attorney’s office) and once we have those in place we plan to go ahead with it,” Deputy Chief David Currey said Thursday. Currey added the plans should be in place in the next couple of weeks. The issue first came to light in November when Vero Beach Police Chief Dan Dappen directed his officers to obtain search warrants for blood samples if drivers charged with misdemeanor DUI refused to take a Breathalyzer test.The town of Indian River Shores had one of its emergency workers take blood in two instances, but along with the county has since refused to allow the taking of any more blood samples for Vero Beach Police DUI cases.However, the department announced last month that the Indian River Medical Center has agreed to conduct the tests.”The Vero Beach Police Department will continue with acquiring search warrants for people arrested for DUI and who refuse to submit to the Intoxilyzer,” read a statement, dated Dec. 22 of last year. “Indian River Medical Center has agreed to provide personnel to draw blood samples for Law Enforcement.”Indian River County Judge David Morgan heard a case this past Wednesday questioning the validity and constitutionality of a DUI blood test obtained by a search warrant and will render a decision soon.However, Currey said the Vero Beach Police Department does not look at the proceedings as a test case for the DUI blood sample program, but rather views it as considering the specifics of the particular case in question.He said he is confident that in working with the State Attorney’s office the program will go forward despite the outcome of the trial.All Florida drivers agree to take a Breathalyzer test when obtaining their driver’s license, but one study estimates that close to half the drivers in Florida refuse when asked by the police.The first time a driver refuses a Breathalyzer, the state can take away his driver’s license for a year. Refusing during a second DUI arrest is a criminal offense, punishable by up to a year in jail.

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