DWI Loophole Now Closed By New Law

Under legislation signed by Governor David Paterson on July 19, 2010, additional medical professionals will now be authorized to take blood from motorists charged with DWI. Under the original law, Section 1194 (4) of the New York Vehicle & Traffic Law, if requested by a police officer, the persons authorized to withdraw blood for determining the alcoholic or drug content are physicians, registered nurses, or registered physician’s assistants. Additionally, if supervised by a physician, a medical laboratory technician, medical technologist, a phlebotomist, or an advanced emergency medical technician are also permitted to draw blood to determine blood alcohol content (BAC).

The modification to the existing statute will now permit advanced EMT’s and certified nurse practitioners to withdraw blood from those charged with driving while intoxicated without supervision by a physician.

The impetus for the new law came from the family of Jack Shea, who was a two time gold medalist in speed skating in the 1932 Olympics. On January 23, 2002, an alleged drunk driver crashed into the vehicle operated by Mr. Shea, who later died from his injuries. The driver’s blood was drawn by an EMT, who was not supervised by a physician. As a result, the charges of vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated were dismissed. Apparently, the reason that the EMT was required to draw the blood is that the physician’s assistant and nurse were attending to Mr. Shea. The Warren County D.A. Kate Hogan stated: ” Prior to today, there were hundreds of cases where dunk drivers who killed or seriously injured people were having their blood drawn by someone who is legally entitled to draw blood in the medical community, but because of an anomaly in the vehicle & traffic law, could not draw blood for purposes of criminal prosecution…it resulted in evidence, critical evidence, being suppressed and cases dismissed.”

Contact the Westchester County Drunk Driving Lawyers at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at (914) 428-7386 for a free consultation if you or a family member is charged with any drunk driving offense.