Senate unanimously passes Padden bill to simplify collection of forensic samples

On Monday the Senate unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden aimed at making it easier for law enforcement to obtain blood samples for forensic testing in criminal investigations – especially those concerning DUI offenses.

“In some jurisdictions there is up to a five-hour delay in acquiring an authorized blood sample,” said Padden, who chairs the Senate Law and Justice Committee. “This will help reduce that timeframe and reduce the strain that is often put on other medical professionals.”

Senate Bill 5066 would create the classification of “forensic phlebotomist,” which the bill defines as a police officer, law-enforcement officer, or corrections employee who has completed a blood-collection training program and who is collecting a blood sample for forensic-testing purposes.

The bill would also permit a physician, nurse or first responder to withdraw blood or collect a blood sample without a person’s consent if instructed to do so by a properly-authorized law enforcement officer for the purpose forensic testing. In addition, it would clarify that a health-care professional’s refusal to take a blood sample or collection would not be considered failure to obey an order from law enforcement.

The refusal rate for blood tests in Idaho, however, dropped from 98 percent to 20 percent after adoption of similar legislation.

“Both the Department of Health and the Criminal Justice Training Commission support this bill, and DOH already has phlebotomist rules in place, so the rulemaking process should move forward smoothly,” Padden predicted.

SB 5066 was approved by a vote of 49-0, and now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration.