Every year numerous opinions are handed down by the appellate courts. These opinions cover a number of topics and deal with a wide range of legal issues. Last year, in June 2016, the United States Supreme Court heard a case about whether or not a chemical test, like a breath or blood test, could be done without first obtaining a warrant. The court determined that while breath tests did not require a warrant, blood tests did.
A recent incident at the University of Utah Medical Center occurred over the issue of a warrantless blood draw. According to the ABA Journal, in late July 2017, a Salt Lake City police detective went to the hospital seeking a blood sample of an individual who had been in a crash. The individual was a trucker who had been “injured in a crash with a vehicle driven by a man fleeing from police.” Though the driver who was running from the cops was killed, the detective, Jeff Payne, stated he “wanted the blood draw to protect the trucker.” His request was denied by Nurse Alex Wubbels, “who refused to allow him to draw blood from [the] unconscious patient without a warrant.”
A video of the incident shows Nurse Wubbels “speaking on the phone with her supervisor and explaining hospital policy to the officer.” However, Payne did not agree with what he was being told and was threatening to arrest Wubbels for denying his request. Wubbels' supervisor questioned why Payne was getting upset with Wubbels and told the “officer he [was] making ‘a huge mistake' by threatening arrest.” According to the ABA Journal, despite her and her supervisor's protestations, Payne still cuffed Wubbels and put her in the back of his squad car. She was not ultimately charged with anything and was released after twenty minutes.
According to Payne's report, “his watch commander had told him to arrest Wubbels for interfering in the investigation if she refused to allow the blood draw.” After the incident, Payne was “suspended from the blood draw unit” and is “subject of an internal police department investigation and a parallel investigation by the department's Civilian Review Board.” The mayor of Salt Lake City and the police chief apologized for the incident. In addition, the Salt Lake City police department has updated its blood draw policy after the incident at the hospital.
Wubbels and her attorney attended a news conference at the beginning of September where they stated that they “wanted to call attention to the incident to highlight the need for better training for police officers.”