Court: Warrant Needed for Blood Tests in DUI Cases

April 18, 2013
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Court rules police cannot obtain blood test for DUI in most cases without a warrant.

Court rules police cannot obtain blood test for DUI in most cases without a warrant.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that, in most cases, police need to obtain a warrant prior to drawing blood from a person suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.  Clarence Thomas was the only justice in dissent.  Mr. McNeely was stopped by a police officer in Missouri after he was speeding and crossing the centerline.  He refused a breath test to measure his blood alcohol concentration. The police officer took him to a nearby hospital, and had his blood drawn without his consent.  His blood alcohol level was well above the legal limit and he was arrested for driving while intoxicated.  Mr. McNeely sued, aguing that his Fourth Amendment rights protecting him from unreasonable searches were violated.  A trial court agreed, as did the Missouri State Supreme Court.  Now the U.S. Supreme Court has issued it’s opinion, written by Justice Sotomayor, concluding that the drawing of blood in this situation is not an emergency, and that a warrant is often obtainable via telephone at nearly all hours.  Justice Thomas, writing for the dissent, concluded that since the blood alcohol level decreases over time, it was urgent that a suspect be tested as soon as possible.

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