Utah lawmakers vote to prevent blood-draw showdowns like the one that led to the infamous arrest of a nurse
FILE - In this July 26, 2017, frame grab from video taken from a police body camera and provided by attorney Karra Porter, nurse Alex Wubbels is arrested by a Salt Lake City police officer at University Hospital in Salt Lake City. Wubbels, who was arrested for refusing to let a police officer draw blood from an unconscious patient said Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, that she was settling with Salt Lake City and the university that runs the hospital for $500,000. (Salt Lake City Police Department/Courtesy of Karra Porter via AP, File)
The Utah House passed a bill Thursday aimed at preventing future confrontations like the arrest last year of University of Utah nurse Alex Wubbels for refusing to allow police to have blood drawn from an unconscious patient — which caused an international uproar.
HB43 outlines when law enforcement may legally obtain blood draws. It passed on a 72-0 vote, and was sent to the Senate.
“I don’t think anyone here believes that what happened that day was acceptable,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, said about Wubbel’s July 26 arrest. “Many things went wrong that day,” and said the bill will help prevent that.
The bill makes clear that police may obtain a blood draw only if one of three conditions are met: they have written or oral consent from the patient; they obtain a warrant; or there is a “judicially recognized exception to the warrant.”
Hall added that “in these days when e-warrants are available within such a short period of time, there really should be no reason not to get a warrant.” He said the Highway Patrol told him it usually takes it about only 10 minutes to obtain such warrants for blood draws.
Hall said the bill is consistent with Salt Lake City’s revised policy, supported by the Highway Patrol, the American Civil Liberties Union and Wubbels’ attorney.
Wubbels last year agreed to a $500,000 payment to settle a dispute with Salt Lake City over her arrest. SLCPD Detective Jeff Payne, who arrested her, was fired.