Can The Police Access My Private Medical Information Following a DUI / OWI Arrest?

Policeman and man with handcuffs in hospital concept for Can The Police Access My Private Medical Or Hospital Records Following a DUI / OWI Arrest?

Your medical history contains intimate details about your life. In most instances, medical records, conversations between a doctor and a patient, and other medical information remain strictly private: the patient decides whether or not to share private medical information. But in some circumstances, such as if a person was arrested under suspicion of drunk driving, healthcare providers can be required to disclose personal health information.

Legal Framework Establishing a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Medical privacy rights are grounded in the US Constitution, US Supreme Court precedent, and state and federal laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, there are various circumstances when police and other law enforcement officers can access a person’s private medical information.

The US Constitution does not formally protect a person’s right to privacy. However, US Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1891 have recognized that people enjoy a constitutionally protected expectation of privacy. In Union Pacific Railway v. Botsford, the Supreme Court stated that “[n]o right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded. . . than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others.” In the 1928 decision of Olmstead v. United States, Justice Brandeis tied a person’s expectation of privacy to the text of the Fourth Amendment. And in 1965, Justice Douglas noted that a person’s expectation of privacy flows from their expectation that they are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.

In addition, HIPAA includes a privacy rule that was supposed to prevent Protected Health Information (PHI) from being disclosed without patient authorization, except in certain limited circumstances.

Police Can Access Private Medical Records When Criminal Activity Is Suspected

When law enforcement officers believe a crime has been committed, they can request a warrant giving them access to private medical information.

Even if law enforcement officers do not have a warrant, there are other justifications for seeking access to a person’s private health information, such as if the information is needed to identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, witness, or missing person, when a crime has committed, and in cases of a medical emergency connected with a crime.

In Michigan, police do not need a warrant to obtain hospital test results if the driver was taken to the hospital after an accident and is suspected of OWI. Known as “Perlos requests,” Michigan courts have ruled that this request for health information does not violate a suspect’s medical privacy rights, and the test results can be used to charge and convict a criminal defendant of OWI.

Elmen Legal: Your Defense Against a Michigan OWI Charge

If you were involved in a car accident and have been charged with drunk driving in Michigan, you need an experienced OWI defense attorney on your side. If you believe police officers accessed your medical records and will use them as evidence to try to convict you, a criminal defense lawyer can mount an aggressive legal defense that will include challenging the reliability and admissibility of these private medical records.

When you work with Elmen Legal, I will work with you to develop a cohesive legal strategy to defend you against a Michigan OWI charge. I will conduct an independent investigation into the facts and circumstances of the case that will include investigating whether the police had probable cause to believe you committed a crime, whether the Field Sobriety Tests (if they were conducted) complied with national standards, and whether there were any procedural irregularities that could be used to challenge the reliability and admissibility of any chemical test results.

Excluding evidence of your alleged intoxication will make it significantly more difficult for the prosecutor to secure a conviction, which can lead to a favorable resolution or even outright dismissal of the case against you.

Contact Elmen Legal Today

If you are facing Michigan OWI charges, Elmen Legal can help. I will review your case, help you explore your options, and fight for a favorable resolution. I will work hard to care for you as an individual and will help by shouldering some of the emotional burden of being charged with a crime.

I invite you to call (734) 707-8915 to learn more about me or to contact Elmen Legal online today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how I can help.

Elmen Legal proudly represents people in Ann Arbor, Saline, Pittsfield Township, Chelsea, or Ypsilanti, in Washtenaw, Wayne, Monroe, Lenawee, Hillsdale, Jackson, Ingham, Livingston, and Oakland Counties.

About Elmen Legal and Cases I Accept

Categories: Drunk Driving / OWI