When it comes to investigating drug crimes, police can be very pushy. They tend to be overly concerned with the fact that drugs pass through your body over time. This means that evidence that you've broken the law – evidence of THC levels or your blood alcohol content (BAC) – slowly dissipates. Therefore, police need to test your blood, breath, or urine quickly, if they want to make an arrest.
Thankfully, this is where police are stopped by your Fourth Amendment rights, which prohibits searches that are unreasonable. However, police are always looking for new ways to gather evidence without stepping on the Fourth Amendment. In South Dakota, police are being criticized for taking things too far.
South Dakota Forcing Urine Samples Using Catheters
In South Dakota on March 14, 2016, a man named Dirk Landon Sparks was arrested after police received a call for a domestic disturbance. While he was in custody, police began to suspect that he was under the influence of some sort of drug. They got a search warrant, allowing them to get a sample of Sparks' blood or urine. Sparks, however, refused to cooperate.
So police brought Sparks to the closest hospital, where he was strapped to a bed and had a catheter forced inside him to get a urine sample. The sample revealed that Sparks had THC and methamphetamine in his system, and he was charged with felony counts of drug ingestion.
South Dakota Officials Say Search Was Legal
The practice of forced catheterization under a search warrant, somehow, is not overtly unconstitutional. At least, not yet. The Supreme Court has deemed that forcing a blood draw without having a search warrant is unconstitutional. However, the fact that the South Dakota police had a search warrant might make things different.
The South Dakota Attorney General, Marty Jackley, is confident that this is the case. He has defended the practice when it's done pursuant to a warrant, even claiming to have support from several state cases. He also has insisted that forcing a urine sample is a last recourse, for suspects that have refused to provide one voluntarily and have refused to allow blood to be drawn.
OUI-Defense Attorney William T. Bly
Regardless of what the Attorney General says, forcing someone to provide a urine sample by inserting a catheter against his wishes seems to be the height of unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Nevertheless, the issue will be complicated by the fact that police had obtained a search warrant, and claim to have been acting under it when they performed the urine test. It will be up to the courts of South Dakota to figure out whether the police went too far.
This is just one instance of how police reach as far as they can to obtain evidence of a crime. If you've been charged with a crime in Maine, particularly one for operating under the influence (OUI), contact the law office of William T. Bly online or at (207) 571-8146.