Supreme Court Decides Warrants Are Needed Before Most DUI Blood Tests

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that police must, in most cases, first seek a warrant from a judge before ordering a blood test of a person arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

Supreme Court RulingThe case before the Court involved a driver from Missouri, who was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. After administering several field sobriety tests, the police officer asked the driver to submit to a breath test. He refused and was taken to a hospital, where blood was drawn despite the driver’s objections. The driver was later convicted of a DUI in Missouri. The Missouri Supreme Court, however, threw out the blood test results, stating that the officer’s failure to get a warrant made the blood draw an “unreasonable” search and seizure prohibited by the Fourth Amendment.

In both the state Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, the state argued that because the body metabolizes alcohol in the bloodstream, there is no time for police officers to get warrants before taking a blood sample, and therefore an exception to the Fourth Amendment should apply. The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed with this reasoning, however.

The Court’s opinion, released Wednesday, April 17, did not provide detailed guidance about when police officers may draw blood in DUI cases without a warrant. In his concurring opinion, however, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that future Supreme Court cases may provide an opportunity for the Court to answer this question.

In Colorado, the state’s “express consent” law presumes drivers have consented to a breath or blood test for DUI by accepting a driver’s license. DUI chemical tests are often vital to a Colorado DUI case. Attorney Tim Bussey has years of experience focusing on how DUI tests work and how they should be performed – experience he relies on to aggressively defend those facing drunk-driving charges in Colorado. For a free and confidential consultation, contact The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. at (719) 475-2555 today.

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