As phlebotomists patrol with Las Vegas police on suspected DUIs, lawyer answers questions about the blood-drawing process

A program where phlebotomists patrol with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police has no been in effect for nearly three weeks.
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 3:14 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A program where phlebotomists patrol with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police has no been in effect for nearly three weeks.

Since FOX5 initially reported on this story, viewers have asked about how these blood draws work when it comes to being under the influence or marijuana, or any other controlled substance that stays in your system longer.

A lawyer helped break down Nevada’s DUI laws.

Getting behind the wheel and driving under the influence is a recurring problem on our roads in Nevada.

Managing partner for Nevada Defense Group Damian Sheets said there are a couple ways to determine whether someone is driving impaired.

“The driving pattern,” said Sheets. “One of things we look at the defense side when I used to prosecute DUIs is did the officer establish driving pattern.”

He said there is the “per se theory,” which means the driver operating the vehicle is at or above the .08 alcohol level and the “impairment theory.”

“You have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are beyond capable of safely operating,” said Sheets.

Sheets said this is where it can become tricky is when trying to determine the time frame of when someone consumed marijuana or a controlled substance, but said there are ways to find out.

“How much exists in the bloods stream, how much has been processed in the metabolite, what are therapeutic levels, you can tell if this is an abusive level of consumption,” said Sheets.

He said officers also look for physical reactions to substances.

“You should in theory your horizontal and nystagmus test which is the eye test that you see them perform but would you be unsatisfactory on the other tests so that is someone who is under the influence of marijuana potentially,” said Sheets.

Over this past weekend, Metro’s DUI blitz team made 200 stops, issued 43 citations, and made 23 DUI arrests.

Sheets said in order to conduct successful prosecutions, officers 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 Lieutenant for LVMPD’s Traffic Bureau Bret Ficklin.

Sheets said having the phlebotomists patrolling with Metro can help prevent any delays.

“It is a winning situation for law enforcement because this is all about timing and often times defendants who ask for warrant because they have a right to refuse that blood, when officers seek a warrant, often times they are beyond that two-hour line so burden of proof has become much more difficult,” said Sheets.