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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 111517
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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On August 14, 2014, I had a medical situation wherein I was

Customer Question

On August 14, 2014, I had a medical situation wherein I was in recovery from double-pneumonia, extremely tired out, and on my way back home after having chest x-rays at Sripps Clinic, La Jolla. I was driving back home and was stopped in traffic. I took too much blood pressure medication that day (clonidine) and while stopped in traffic I had a pass-out at the wheel. My foot was on the break and the car stayed still and did not hit anyone or cause any accident. Bystanders called police and they came along with
an ambulance and the cop said he had to break my window to wake me. I woke fully. The ambulance driver demanded I hand him a gym bag I had with me at the time with my legal prescription medications inside. He opened a bottle and found clonidine and xanax and immediately yelled out "XANAX" and they then proceeded to pull me out of my car and strap me down on a gurney against my will, with the cop standing right there. Then the
ambulance driver proceeded to inject a needle into my arm against my will, and draw out blood. He did about a "90-second test" for "Xanax" and then yelled out (again): "XANAX" ... even though I didn't take any that day at all and I told them so before they even before they strapped me down and that it was the clonidine that caused my pass out. They transported me to Scripps Memorial Hospital. I left shortly afterwards and went and picked up my car. Several other attorneys told me I'd have a valid lawsuit for a violation of legal rights of search and seizure without a warrant and a possibly another right, however I misplaced that report that I obtained from the internet's "Ask an attorney" website. What I have written are the facts of what happened. I hope this website gets the full information of what I typed here through.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Were you charged with any crime or did the ambulance personnel just test you and take you to the hospital for treatment? Do you have lab tests from the hospital proving there was no Xanax in your system when you went to the hospital?
As far as "rights of search and seizure" that would apply only if the police did this to you and you were charged with a crime, which was why I asked if you were charged with a criminal offense.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
No charges were filed and no DUI. AFAIK, there were no tests made at the hospital I was transported to for xanax; only the 90-second (or less) test the driver did. I don't understand what gave them the authority to force a needle into my arm and draw blood from me against my will with the police standing there. Also, if he found xanax in my system as he yelled out, it seems very suspicious to me that they didn't file charges. They're decision to not file DUI charges seemed to occur after they made a phone call to Scripps Clinic. I suspect that since my doctor's (at the time) name was on the bottle (clonidine), they instructed the ambulance driver and the cop not to to proceed with any charges. I think it was all "rigged" to protect my doctor's ass, and Scripps Clinic's ass, too. A few months later he "quit" Scripps Clinic. (probably asked to leave) ....
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
I do not know what type of attorney could ever tell you, unless they were telling you something they thought you wanted to hear, that this was an "illegal search and seizure without a warrant." The ambulance personnel responsibility is to check the health of the patient they were called to treat, no warrant is necessary for them to so that. Ambulance drivers do not arrest people and do not have powers to do anything but treat them. Also, as someone who has spend over 30 years working with police departments as a prosecutor and defense attorney as well, I have rarely seen any officer or DA stick their neck out for a doctor or let a doctor "instruct" them to do anything.
The issue here is you had an incident behind the wheel, the police and ambulance was called. The ambulance personnel misread their field test, which is really a fairly unreliable and basic test to begin with and is not sufficient evidence for charging anyone and any result would have to be confirmed by blood/urine analysis. So, because of your situation behind the wheel they had to check you out take you for examination, since they could not let you continue to drive off once you passed out.
Now, had they arrested you or improperly charged you with an offense based on this conduct, then I would agree that there could have then been an illegal search if the police obtained the blood without authorization. However, the court in Missouri v. McNeely held that an officer has to get a warrant only when it is practical and that because alcohol and drugs dissipate with time in the blood, to present destruction of evidence many times a warrant may not be necessary.
However, there is another law you need to be aware of, it is called the implied consent law and in CA when you sign your driver's license, you are consenting to be bound by this law. Under the implied consent law, the police actually have a right to test any driver they have reason to believe may have been operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, so to answer your question as to what gave them the right, the implied consent laws give them the right to test a driver.
Had the ambulance people caused you to get arrested by the police or suffer anything more than going to the hospital for examination, you would have had a legal basis for a suit against them. Legally, because you passed out behind the wheel, the police in CA could take away your drivers license for a health issue and could have made you go through medical tests and a hearing at DMV to get it back.
To sue government employees, under CA law, you needed to send a notice of claim within 6 months of the incident. Also, the CA law says that their agencies and employees cannot be sued for ordinary negligence in performing their jobs, it must be gross negligence (such as violating some law) and in those cases you have to file suit within 2 years of the incident only if you gave them notice within 6 months of the incident. If you fail to give notice of claim within 6 months of the incident, you are barred from suing a government entity.
So based on what you have stated, I am afraid the above issues are the problems you would face.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.

They charged me ....

I'll rate your service ...

The reason I haven't so far is because that was the same website that an attorney (I assume)
told me I'd have a valid lawsuit for a violation of my legal rights for forcing me into drawing
my blood without a warrant, so I've been confused which attorney is correct now.

It was last year sometime the other attorney at that same website wrote that I would have
a valid lawsuit.

--
technet

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
I am afraid that I do not know what the lawyer was responding to in your question that would lead him to tell you that, but it was why I even provided you the case law about the warrant issue and that is what the Supreme Court states.
Also, while the site charged you a deposit, the experts are not employees of the site and get no credit for spending time with customers unless the customer leaves positive feedback.