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Technology and Search Warrants

April 26, 2013 1 comment

In DUI situations, it is imperative for the State’s case that police obtain timely evidence of the driver’s blood alcohol content. However, before an officer can draw blood from a driver they are required to apply for and obtain a search warrant (or obtain consent); this process can take several hours to complete, depending on the time of day. 

 Police and Law enforcement across the country are now utilizing video conferencing technology and other means to expedite the process of obtaining search warrants for blood draws.

In jurisdictions that utilize electronic warrant procedures, obtaining a warrant can take as little as 30 minutes. For instance, the electronic procedure exercised in Palm Bay, Florida begins with a cellular call made from the officer’s vehicle to a judge in their jurisdiction. After informing the judge of the incident, the officer emails an affidavit with their electronic signature to the judge. Once the judge reviews the affidavit, they can directly deliver their official testimony by video-calling the officer using Skype.

While proponents of the use of this technology argue that implementation of these procedures will save time and money, some critics aren’t sold on the idea.  For instance, in some Michigan jurisdictions, patrol cars aren’t even equipped with dash cams.  This can prove problematic when there is a dispute about the basis for the traffic stop that leads to an OWI arrest.  Often, operating while intoxicated cases in Michigan and other states hinge on the credibility of the officer.  If there is money to be spent, shouldn’t it first be allocated to technology that levels the playing field?  Furthermore, other critics have argued that the ability to instantaneously communicate with the officer on the scene with the accused present should require that the accused have an opportunity to be heard prior to the issuance of a search warrant.

Resources:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/12/dui-search-warrant-blood-sample/2079419/

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110330/02461013692/police-using-skype-to-get-warrants-while-crime-scene.shtml

http://wuisnews.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/proposal-police-could-obtain-warrants-using-video-chat/

http://tech.wiredpig.us/post/12291391474/florida-cops-using-skype-to-expedite-warrants

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=2188&GAID=12&GA=98&DocTypeID=SB&LegID=73776&SessionID=85

 

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