Las Vegas police team with phlebotomists to help catch people driving impaired

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 4:32 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is cracking down on those driving under the influence. Starting October 1, phlebotomists will patrol with LVMPD nightly to conduct blood samples on the spot.

Drinking, smoking marijuana, or consuming drugs and then getting behind the wheel is causing more and more deaths across Nevada.

“The latest state report came out about fatalities and the two main causal factors were under the influence and speed,” said Lieutenant for LVMPD’s traffic bureau, Bret Ficklin.

In 2018, Metro created its DUI strike team where officers go out nightly looking for drivers who may be under the influence.

“Lately, in the stops I have been making, that turned out to be DUI, it has been red light runners,” said Ficklin.

If a suspect is believed to be impaired, a breath or blood test will be given, but for Metro to conduct successful illegal prosecutions in these cases, they are required to get a blood sample within two hours.

“Because it is such a short time frame, especially when you consider having to make a stop having to do the field sobriety test, having to transport somebody to a facility like a city jail, Clark county detention center or UMC, it takes away from that two-hour time frame,” said Ficklin.

Because of this delay, two years ago, Metro started to have phlebotomists who were volunteers ride with officers out in the field three nights a week, but the metro determined this needed to become more regular.

Metro received $545,000 in grant funding to now have phlebotomists go out patrolling with police 7 days a week.

“We will contact dispatch and dispatch will contact the officer that is working with the phlebotomist and have them respond to their location,” said Ficklin.

LVMPD said suspects must give consent before giving blood so we asked what happens if someone does not give their consent.

“At that point, we contact a judge, we get a search warrant to get the blood and we still go through the process in those cases to get the blood out in the field,” said Ficklin.

Lieutenant Ficklin said they can also get their license revoked for up to a year.

Metro said the phlebotomists are contracted through Sunrise Pathology Services and will patrol with officers every day of the week.