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Us Supreme Court To Hear Case On Warrantless Blood Test For Dui

Can police officers forcibly take blood from a person suspected of driving under the influence in order to preserve the evidence? That is the question headed to the United States Supreme Court after a Missouri man challenged the evidence obtained from a blood test administered against his will and without a warrant. The Supreme Court’s decision will affect anyone arrested under suspicion of DUI, including those in Pennsylvania.

The man’s case starts out as a fairly routine DUI arrest. The man was pulled over in the early hours of the morning for speeding and arrested shortly thereafter for suspicion of driving under the influence, or DUI. The police officer who arrested the man claimed the man’s speech was slurred, his breath smelled of alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot. The man apparently failed a field sobriety test.

When the officer asked the man if he would agree to take an alcohol breath test or have his blood taken and the man refused. This is where the story changes. Rather than calling the on-duty judge to obtain a warrant to execute the blood test, the officer ordered a non-consensual draw.

The man filed a motion in court to have the fruits of the unwarranted draw thrown out because the draw violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The officer told the court he believed the state’s implied consent law eliminated the need for a warrant.

After the judge approved the motion and excluded the evidence and the case was appealed to the state Supreme Court, which affirmed the lower court ruling. The state Supreme Court could find no exigent circumstance that would justify the taking of the blood without a warrant.

Exigent circumstances is sometimes used as an exception to the warrant requirement when there is some danger that evidenced may be lost or destroyed. Here, the argument will be made that the warrantless search was necessary to prevent the accused man’s body from naturally destroying the evidence by metabolizing the alcohol. The reality is that it is not that difficult to get a warrant when it is based on probable cause and the drop in blood-alcohol-content that would take place during the time it takes to get a warrant is likely to be minimal and does not rise to the level necessary to grant an exigent circumstances exception.

The law firm of Cherry DUI Law regularly defends the rights of people in all matter of drunk driving cases. If you would like to learn more about our Philadelphia DUI lawyers, please visit our website.

Source: www.courthousenews.com, “Unwarranted DWI Blood Draw Dispute Advances,” Barbara Leonard, 27 September 2012