Supreme Court reviews constitutionality of forced blood withdrawals
Can police do a forced blood withdrawals without my permission after drunk driving arrest?
The Supreme Court has agreed this week to review current DUI laws in their fall session which allow police offers to perform forced blood withdrawals from drunk drivers without a valid search warrant. Laws for forced blood withdrawals have been passed in several states and were performed after DUI suspects refused to take a breathalyzer test.
Missouris forced blood withdrawal laws, which allow officers to withdrawal a suspects blood before getting an approval from a judge, will be reviewed. The state of Missouri argues that the law is constitutional because time is of the essence and seeking legal authorization would allow the drivers BAC or blood alcohol level to lower to a legal limit, even if they were intoxicated at the time of the drunk driving arrest.
The state argues that officers should be able to gather the best, most probative evidence as soon as possible to allow for accurate BAC testing. This process, the state argues, allows for accuracy and efficiency of DUI evidence gathering.
State courts have weighed in on the matter with differing opinions, which has forced the Supreme Court to make a final decision. Many states, however, have already banned the practice of forced blood withdrawals. In fact, 27 states currently have a ban on the practice, and if the court decides against the practice, it may have limited impact on current drivers arrested for drunk driving. It is estimated that more than 1.4 million people are arrested each year for drunk driving.
The Supreme Court case originates from the arrest of Tyler McNeely who was arrested for drunk driving, exhibited extreme signs of drunk driving, failed the field sobriety tests but refused the breathalyzer test. The officer took him to a hospital and ordered a lab technician to draw McNeelys blood for chemical testing. McNeelys blood-alcohol content was 0.154% which is almost two times the legal limit of 0.08%.
Several court cases later with the trial court and the Missouri Supreme Court disagreeing with the states right to avoid getting a search warrants from a neutral judge before forcing DWI suspects to undergo blood-alcohol tests, the State of Missouri has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to determine: Whether a law enforcement officer may obtain a nonconsensual and warrantless blood sample from a drunk driver under the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement based upon the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream.
The main question plaguing police departments and states nationwide is whether the state has the right to perform a forced blood withdrawal and whether this act constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court decision will be made by early 2013.
Hiring a DUI lawyer
If you have been arrested for drunk driving and you need legal assistance, talk to a DUI lawyer. Drunk driving attorneys can review the evidence from your DUI arrest and determine if the state has sufficient grounds to charge you with DUI and whether or not you can fight the charges.